Control and sale of alcoholic beverages, for the year ending March 31, 2013

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Beer and liquor stores and agencies sold $21.4 billion worth of alcoholic beverages during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, up 2.2% from the previous year. Beer remained the alcoholic drink of choice for Canadians, with $9.1 billion in sales, but the market share of wine continued to grow.

The growth rate in wine sales (+4.9%) in 2013 outpaced that of spirits (+2.9%) and beer (-0.1%). The overall increase in alcoholic beverage sales slowed in 2013, with all three market segments (beer, wine, spirits) recording lower growth rates compared with a year earlier.

The net income realized by provincial and territorial liquor authorities, combined with other alcohol-related revenue such as liquor licences and permits, was up 3.2% from the previous year to $6.3 billion in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013. Most provinces and territories posted increases in net income.

The market share of beer declines

Beer and liquor stores and agencies sold $9.1 billion worth of beer during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, down 0.1% from the previous year. New Brunswick reported the largest sales decline at 4.6%, while Prince Edward Island posted the biggest increase at 4.6%.

The decline in beer sales reflected the overall trend in the market share of beer compared with that of wine. In 2003, beer had a market share of 50% in terms of dollar value, while wine had 24%. By 2013, the market share for beer had declined to 43%, while wine had increased to 32%.

Chart 1 
Proportion of sales of alcoholic beverages in dollars
Column clustered chart – Chart 1: Proportion of sales of alcoholic beverages in dollars

Chart description: Proportion of sales of alcoholic beverages in dollars

CSV version of chart 1

In terms of volume sold, beer and liquor stores and agencies sold 2.3 billion litres of beer in 2013. The volume of domestic beer sold decreased 1.7% from the previous year to 2.0 billion litres. The volume of imported beer sold declined 3.8% to 0.3 billion litres. Over a 10-year period beginning in 2003, the market share of domestic beer sold in Canada decreased from 91% to 86% in 2013.

Overall, three countries accounted for about 60% of imported beer sales in terms of volume. Beer originating from the United States accounted for 24.4%, followed by the Netherlands (18.7%) and Mexico (16.6%).

On a per-capita basis, beer sales amounted to 78.0 litres per person in the fiscal period ending March 31, 2013, down from 83.6 litres in 2003.

Chart 2 
Sales of alcoholic beverages per capita 15 years and over – Volume
Column clustered chart – Chart 2: Sales of alcoholic beverages per capita 15 years and over – Volume

Chart description: Sales of alcoholic beverages per capita 15 years and over – Volume

CSV version of chart 2

Wine's popularity still on the rise

Wineries and liquor stores and agencies sold $6.8 billion worth of wine during the year ending March 31, 2013, up 4.9% from the previous year. All provinces and territories reported gains, with Alberta posting the highest growth at 11.0%.

In terms of volume, wine sales increased 3.9% from 2012 to 506.6 million litres in 2013. The growth in volume of imported wine (+4.3%) outpaced that of domestic wine (+3.3%).

The market shares of red and white wine have shifted over the past 10 years. In 2013, red wine represented 56% of total wine sales compared with 51% in 2003.

The share of imported red wine in 2013 was virtually unchanged from 2012, accounting for 77% of all red wines sold in Canada. The market share of imported white wine was smaller, at 61%.

On a per-capita basis, wine sales amounted to 17.4 litres or $234 per person in 2013, up 4.3 litres per person from 2003.

Liqueur and rum sales up

Liquor stores and agencies sold $5.4 billion worth of spirits during the year ending March 31, 2013, up 2.9% from the previous year. This gain was mainly the result of higher sales of liqueurs (+9.5%), rum (+4.1%) and vodka (+3.9%).

The volume of spirits sold rose 2.7% in 2013 to 222.4 million litres. Sales of domestic spirits totalled 148.0 million litres, up 2.2%, but slower than the 3.8% increase in imported spirits. Imports accounted for one-third of the market share of spirits in Canada. Imports of spirits have been increasing for several years, rising from 26% in 2003 to 33% in 2013.

In terms of dollar value, the largest share of imported spirits sold came from the United States (27.3%), followed by the United Kingdom (27.3%). Whisky-type products such as whisky, scotch, and bourbon accounted for 27% of total spirits sales in 2013, followed by vodka (24%) and rum (17%).

On a per-capita basis, spirits sales amounted to 7.6 litres per person in 2013, up 0.1 litres per person from 2003. The market share of spirits was unchanged at 25% in 2013 compared with 2003.

Note to readers

Statistics on the 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, as 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 as published in CANSIM table 051-0001 for July 1, 2012, to conform to internationally accepted standards. 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. For more information, consult the "Definitions, data sources and methods" section of this release.

Available in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table183-0006 and CANSIM table183-0015 to 183-0020.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number1726.

Data tables on sales of alcoholic beverages are available from the National economic accounts module of our website.

Data are also available through custom and special tabulation.

For more information on this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Bruce Orok (613-951-0181;, Public Sector Statistics Division.