Beer’s market share dwindling to wine, spirits

The latest national figures suggest Canadian palettes — at least when it comes to alcohol — are becoming somewhat more sophisticated.

OTTAWA — The latest national figures suggest Canadian palettes — at least when it comes to alcohol — are becoming somewhat more sophisticated.

Beer and liquor stores and agencies sold $19.4 billion worth of alcoholic beverages during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009, three per cent more than in the previous year.

Statistics Canada attributes the dollar growth to an increase in sales of imported spirits and beer compared with domestic products, and a one per cent average increase in the cost of alcoholic beverages. In litres of absolute alcohol — pure alcohol, free of water — the agency says the volume of sales of alcoholic beverages increased 1.6 per cent to 226.4 million litres.

But while beer by far remained the most popular alcoholic beverage in terms of both volume and dollar value, StatsCan says its market share declined.

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

Beer stores and agencies sold 2.3 billion litres of beer in 2009, a 0.9 per cent increase from the previous year. Per-capita beer sales have dropped 28 per cent from their peak of 115.2 litres in 1976 to 83.5 litres in 2009.

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

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.

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