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Control and sale of alcoholic beverages, for the year ending March 31, 2015

Released: 2016-05-10

Liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold $21.3 billion worth of alcoholic beverages during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, up 3.8% from the previous year. Beer remained the alcoholic drink of choice for Canadians, with $9.0 billion in sales, accounting for 42.0% of total sales in 2014/2015. However, the market share of other alcoholic beverages continued to grow.

The total volume of alcohol sold in 2014/2015 increased 1.5% to 3 035 million litres or 240 million litres of absolute alcohol, following a 0.7% decline in volume sold the previous fiscal year.

The net income earned by provincial and territorial liquor authorities rose 3.3% to $5.7 billion in 2014/2015, after growing 0.4% the previous year. All liquor authorities reported positive net income in 2014/2015, with 9 of 13 reporting increases in net income compared with the previous fiscal year.

Net income and other government revenue derived from the control and sale of alcoholic beverages, including excise taxes, retail sales taxes, specific taxes on alcohol, and licence and permit revenues, totalled $10.9 billion in 2014/2015.

Beer sales increase

Liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold $9.0 billion worth of beer during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, up 3.1% from the previous year.

The average annual growth rate of total beer sales over the past 10 years was 1.7%. Sales of Canadian beer grew at an annual average rate of 1.1% over the past decade, while imported beer sales increased at an annual average rate of 6.0% over that period.

Beer sales as a proportion of total sale of alcoholic beverages have declined in recent years. In 2005/2006, beer had a market share of 47.9% in terms of dollar value, while wine had a market share of 26.0%. By 2014/2015, the market share for beer had fallen to 42.0%, while wine had increased its share to 31.4%.

Sales of Canadian beer increased 2.0%, while imported beer sales rose 9.1% in 2014/2015. Of total beer sales, Ontario (19.9%) and British Columbia (18.8%) sold the greatest proportions of imported beer, while Nunavut (2.7%) and Saskatchewan (3.4%) sold the lowest.

Beer sales had the greatest market share of total alcoholic beverage sales in Nunavut (57.8%) and the lowest in British Columbia (36.2%). Alberta (+4.6%) reported the largest increase of beer sales followed by Ontario (+3.6%).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Proportion of sales (in dollars) of alcoholic beverages, by category
Proportion of sales (in dollars) of alcoholic beverages, by category

In terms of volume sold, liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold 2 257 million litres of beer in 2014/2015. The volume of Canadian beer sold decreased 0.6% from the previous year to 1 908 million litres, while the volume of imported beer sold increased 7.9% to 348 million litres.

The average annual growth rate of beer sales (in volume) over the last decade was 0.1%. Imported beer sales grew at an annual average rate of 4.1%, while sales of Canadian beer decreased at an annual average rate of 0.5%.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Proportion of sales (in volume) of alcoholic beverages, by category
Proportion of sales (in volume) of alcoholic beverages, by category

Wine sales growth continues

Liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold $6.7 billion worth of wine during the year ending March 31, 2015, up 5.1% from the previous year. All provinces and territories reported gains, with Alberta (+9.5%) posting the highest growth, followed by the Northwest Territories (+8.4%). Sales of Canadian wine grew 7.6%, outpacing the 4.0% growth of imported wine sales.

Wine sales had the greatest market share in Quebec, at 43.1% of total sales of alcoholic beverages, while the lowest was in Nunavut, at 12.2%.

Imported red wine sales accounted for 75.7% of all red wines sold in 2014/2015, virtually unchanged from the proportion in 2005/2006 (76.1%). The share of imported white wines edged up from 57.9% in 2005/2006 to 60.5% in 2014/2015.

In terms of volume, wine sales increased 4.1% from 2013/2014 to 481 million litres in 2014/2015. The growth in volume of Canadian wine sold (+6.3%) outpaced that of imported wine (+2.7%). All provinces and territories reported gains, with Alberta (+8.2%) posting the highest growth, followed by Saskatchewan (+6.6%).

Spirit sales up

Liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold $4.9 billion worth of spirits during the year ending March 31, 2015, up 2.7% from the previous year. Spirit sales had the greatest market share in the Northwest Territories, at 40.1% of total sales of alcoholic beverages, and the lowest in Quebec (12.6%). Sales of Canadian spirits were unchanged, while imported spirit sales increased 5.9%.

The average annual growth rate of spirit sales over the last 10 years was 3.3%. Canadian spirit sales grew at an annual average rate of 1.7% over the past decade, compared with an annual average growth rate of 5.4% for imported spirits.

In terms of volume, the amount of spirits sold increased 1.5% in 2014/2015 to 160 million litres. Sales of Canadian spirits totalled 91 million litres, down 0.3% in 2014/2015, while the volume of imported spirits sales increased 3.9% to 69 million litres. The share of spirit imports has been on the rise for several years, increasing from 36.1% of spirits sold in 2005/2006 to 43.0% in 2014/2015.

Ciders, coolers and other refreshment beverages: Small market share but with sustained and dynamic growth

Liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold $0.8 billion worth of ciders, coolers and other refreshment beverages (CCORB) in 2014/2015, up 9.2% from the previous year. CCORB sales had the greatest market share in Saskatchewan, at 5.8% of total sales of alcoholic beverages, and the lowest share in Quebec (1.2%). Newfoundland and Labrador (+18.5%) and Manitoba (+17.1%) had the highest growth rates in this category.

In terms of volume, liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold 138 million litres of CCORB in 2014/2015, an increase of 8.9% from the previous year. The average annual growth rate of CCORB sales over the last 10 years was 5.0%. Canadian CCORB sales grew at an annual average rate of 1.6%, while imported CCORB sales increased at an annual average rate of 17.8%.



  Note to readers

Data comparability and limitations

Statistics on sales of alcoholic beverages by volume should not be equated with data on consumption. Sales volumes include only sales as reported by the liquor authorities and their agencies, including sales by wineries, breweries and other outlets that operate under license from the liquor authorities. Data on the consumption of alcoholic beverages would include all of these sales, as well as any unreported volumes of alcohol sold through ferment-on-premise operations or other outlets and any unrecorded or illegal transactions.

Statistics on sales of alcoholic beverages by dollar value should not be equated with consumer expenditures on alcoholic beverages. The sales data refer to the revenues received by liquor authorities and their agents and a portion of these revenues includes sales to licensed establishments, such as bars and restaurants.

The value of sales of alcoholic beverages excludes all sales taxes, the value of returnable containers and deposits. Absolute volume of sales of alcoholic beverages is calculated by multiplying the sales volume by the percentage of alcohol content for each product category.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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