Beer still losing sales share to wine: StatsCan

Canada’s beer and liquor stores and agencies sold $19.4 billion worth of alcoholic beverages during the year ending March 31, 2009, up three per cent from the previous year, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

The growth in dollar value of sales reflected a combination of factors, the federal statistics agency said, citing an increase in sales of imported spirits and beer compared with domestic products, plus a one per cent average increase in alcoholic beverage prices during the fiscal year.

In litres of “absolute” alcohol, the volume of sales of alcoholic beverages increased 1.6 per cent, to 226.4 million litres. (A litre of absolute alcohol is a litre of pure alcohol, free of water. The volume of sales of alcoholic beverages in litres of absolute alcohol is calculated by multiplying the sales volume by the percentage of alcohol content.)

The net income realized by provincial and territorial liquor authorities, combined with other alcohol-related revenue, such as liquor licenses and permits, reached $5.4 billion in 2009, up 3.6 per cent from the previous year. Saskatchewan, Nunavut and Nova Scotia reported the largest increases.

Beer dominance weakening

Beer stores and agencies sold $8.8 billion worth of beer during the year ending March 31, 2009, up 2.2 per cent from the previous year. Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta were the largest contributors to this growth.

Beer remained by far the most popular alcoholic beverage in terms of both volume and dollar value, although its market share declined.

In 1993, beer peaked at 53 per cent of dollar sales; wine accounted for 18 per cent. By 2009, however, the market share of beer had declined to 46 per cent, while wine had captured 29 per cent.

In terms of volume, beer stores and agencies sold 2.3 billion litres of beer in 2009, a 0.9 per cent increase from the previous year. On a per capita basis, beer sales have declined 28 per cent from their peak of 115.2 litres in 1976 to 83.5 litres in 2009.

The growth in volume of sales of imported beer continued to outpace that of domestic products. The volume of imported beer sold increased 7.8 per cent in 2009, while sales of domestic products remained unchanged.

By volume, imported beer has more than doubled its market share in the last decade. In 2009, imported beer had captured 13 per cent of the beer market in Canada, up from six per cent in 1999.

Red wines boost wine sales

Wineries and liquor stores and agencies sold $5.7 billion worth of wines during the year ending March 31, 2009, up 4.6 per cent from the previous year.

In terms of volume, wine sales reached 441.4 million litres, a 3.8 per cent increase. The growth in sales of domestic wine outpaced the growth of imported wine sales.

Much of the strength in wine sales can be attributed to the rising popularity of red wines. Sales of red wine, which includes both red and rose wines, accounted for 64 per cent of the total volume of red and white wine sold.

Dollar sales of red wine have more than doubled (up 161 per cent) between 2000 and 2009, while white wine dollar sales rose at a much slower pace (up 50 per cent) during the same period. Just over 24 per cent of all red wines sold in Canada were domestic wines, compared with almost 39 per cent of white wines.

Vodka increases spirits sales

Liquor stores and agencies sold $4.9 billion worth of spirits during the year ending March 31, 2009, up 2.9 per cent from the previous year. This gain was due mainly to a 5.6 per cent increase in vodka sales.

The volume of sales of spirits decreased 0.2 per cent in 2009, to 210.3 million litres. Canadian products represented 67.5 per cent of these sales, down from 69 per cent in 2008.

Although domestic spirits dominated the spirits market, the sales volume of imported spirits increased 4.7 per cent to 68.4 million litres. Sales of Canadian spirits declined 2.4 per cent to 141.9 million litres.

Whisky-type products, such as whisky, scotch and bourbon, were still the largest share, accounting for 27 per cent of all total spirits sales in 2009. Just over 67 per cent of these sales were Canadian products.

Notes: Statistics on sales of alcoholic beverages by volume should not be equated with data on consumption. Sales volumes include only sales by liquor authorities and their agents, and sales by wineries and breweries and outlets that operate under license from the liquor authorities.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages would include all these sales, plus homemade wine and beer, wine and beer manufactured through brew-on-premises operations, sales in duty-free shops and any unrecorded transactions.

Similarly, statistics on sales of alcoholic beverages by dollar value of sales should not be equated with consumer spending on alcoholic beverages. Sales data refer to the revenues received by liquor authorities, wineries and breweries. These revenues include sales to licensed establishments, such as bars and restaurants.

Therefore, sales data do not reflect the total amount spent by consumers on alcoholic beverages, since the prices paid in licensed establishments are greater than the price paid by those establishments to the liquor authorities.

Per capita data are based on the population aged 15 and over.

The fiscal year period for liquor authorities covers the period April 1 to March 31.

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