Beer, wine ac­cess may hurt spir­its, study finds

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - ROBERT BEN­ZIE

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.

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