The owner of a Red Deer brewery says he’s glad the government is trying to make it easier to sell Alberta-made beer in Ontario, but knows a lot of work has to be done.
Kevin Wood, owner of Drummond Brewery Co., said he has unsuccessfully attempted to sell products in Ontario multiple times over the company’s 11-year history.
Alberta is launching a formal trade challenge against Ontario, over what the Alberta government says are unfair barriers to Alberta-made suds and other alcoholic products.
“I’m quite happy the NDP has struck an interest in this file,” he said. But “until the other provinces privatize, it’s not the same. It’s not a free-market economy running it. It’s people making the decision of what beer’s going to be on the shelf.”
Alberta’s private liquor stores sell 745 alcoholic beverages made in Ontario, but the government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) lists only about 20 products made in Alberta.
Wood said Ontario “isn’t even the worst culprit.
“B.C. is just as bad. Saskatchewan is probably the best, other than Alberta,” he said. “Quebec is the worst, 100 per cent. You cannot even sell in Quebec and yet many Quebec breweries sell here.”
Drummond Brewery currently only sells its products in Alberta.
Wood said to sell beer in Ontario, Alberta breweries must apply through the LCBO or The Beer Store, which is owned by a collection of beer companies.
“The only way to get a listing on the LCBO is to get an approval from them,” he said. “As times have gone on, LCBO shelves have filled up with their own beers.”
The LCBO said in a statement Monday that it is aware of the Alberta action and that “breweries from anywhere in Canada are equally able to access our listing process.”
Alberta Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous has complained that Ontario gives local brewers access to stores over Alberta brewers, gives Ontario beverages preferential shelf or refrigerated locations, requires Alberta brewers to provide commercially confidential information to their larger competitors, and gives Ontario small brewers a significant discount on listing costs.
– With files from The Canadian Press