Beer, wine access may hurt spirits, study finds
Premier Doug Ford’s plans to liberalize the sale of beer and wine could cause a major hangover for Ontario’s domestic spirits industry, a new report warns.
The Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis study, commissioned by the Association of Canadian Distillers, says restricting variety stores, supermarkets and big box outlets from selling whisky, rum, gin, or vodka will be harmful to the sector’s health.
“Distilled spirits manufacturers are sensitive to structural shifts in the environment in which they operate,” says the 22-page report, which will be released Thursday.
“Changing consumers’ access to distilled spirits relative to other types of beverage alcohols is one such change that can have potentially significant repercussions for the industry,” it continues.
“Proposed policy changes to further extend the sales of beer and wine into new retail channels but exclude distilled spirits can impact the local demand for spirits by rendering these less convenient to access relative to other types of beverage alcohols.”
Spirits sales will be limited to the government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario monopoly.
That puts the province’s $1.1billion-a-year beverage alcohol industry at a disadvantage, said Jan Westcott, president and CEO of Spirits Canada.
“It should be fairly obvious. The Ford government promised fairness and choice for Ontarian adults,” said Westcott.
“People can’t choose what they can’t find on store shelves. Allowing imported beer and wine in stores that can’t sell Ontarian spirits made from Ontarian grains by Ontarian workers makes no sense and would be a very costly mistake,” he said.
The study notes there are 4,600 jobs in spirits manufacturing in the province.