Ontario Spirits Industry Response to Clark Panel Initial "Alcohol Recommendations"

TORONTO, April 21, 2015 /CNW/ - Spirits Canada welcomed the initial alcohol reform recommendations by the Premier's Advisory Council on Government Assets and signaled its intention to continue working with the Government of Ontario and the Council.

"Ontario's Spirits manufacturers were pleased to have the chance to engage with the Council over the past few months," stated Jan Westcott, President & CEO, Spirits Canada. "The Council still has much work ahead and we look forward to working with it in the coming weeks to expand reform to other beverage alcohol sectors based on the principles outlined in its report including enhanced customer experience and convenience, increased competition, a level playing field, improved supplier access and financial benefits to the Province".

"While we won't prejudge the outcome of our dialogue with the Council, our expectation is for fair and equal retail access and opportunities for Ontario-Spirits manufacturers as that recommended for imported beer, said Westcott. "Ontario consumers have 25% to 35% fewer outlets at which to buy their favourite Spirits brands than for beer or wine and they pay a much higher tax rate on those Spirits".

"We also note that Ontario Spirits (and wine) are already widely available alongside beer in over 200 LCBO Agency Stores, including in grocery stores in smaller communities", added Mr. Westcott. "This system provides a model for responsible marketing and more choice for consumers when it comes to Spirits as well beer and wine."

In its report, "Striking the Right Balance: Modernizing Beer Retailing and Distribution in Ontario", the Council recommended a series of reforms including the sale of six pack of domestic and foreign beer in up to 450 urban grocery stores and the sale of 12 packs of beer in up to 60 LCBO stores.

Beverage alcohol sales would be authorized by the LCBO and licensed grocery stores would be under strict regulatory control including restricted hours of sale, designated display areas, minimum & uniform pricing, check-out safeguards and certified alcohol training for all employees.

'We believe there are a number of reforms that can deliver an enhanced customer experience for Spirits shoppers including exciting new LCBO store formats, an enhanced on-line retail presence for the LCBO and an expansion of the LCBO Agency Store model to larger urban markets", added Westcott. "These would deliver on the government's commitment to unlock value from the beverage alcohol retail system and do so in a responsible manner."

Spirits Canada is the only national trade organization representing the interests of Ontario and Canadian Spirits manufacturers, marketers, exporters and consumers.

KEY FACTS  --  Ontario Distilled Spirits Industry

  • Ontario consumers pay a higher effective tax rate for the Spirits they buy than they do for beer or wine.
  • An OMAFRA study identified that Ontario distilled spirits businesses contribute approximately $1.5 billion annually to the Ontario economy.
  • With 5 significant plants including the largest distillery in North America, Ontario spirits support over 6,000 full-time jobs across the province.
  • Ontario distillers export some $350 million worth of Canadian whisky and other spirits from Ontario to more than 150 countries around the world.
  • Ontario-based spirits manufacturers ship another $100 million worth of finished goods from Ontario to other Canadian provinces and territories.
  • Of the $1.7 billion that the LCBO last year transferred to the Ontario treasury, almost 60% of that was from the sale of spirits.
  • Iconic Ontario-made Canadian whiskies like Wiser's, Canadian Club, Gibson's and Forty Creek are amongst the highest value-added products made from Canadian resources, in turn, directly creating thousands of good jobs for Ontario families.
  • Many of these jobs are located in and support rural areas and smaller communities across Ontario.
  • Ontario distillers source virtually 100% of their grain from Ontario farms.
  • Ontario distillers are the 4th largest buyer of corn in Ontario; it is also the Industry that purchases the highest grades of corn grown in the province.
  • Ontario distilleries source their grain right across the province including southwestern Ontario, central Ontario and southeastern Ontario.
  • The Windsor, Collingwood and Grimsby distilleries return high-purity Distillers Dried Grains (DDG) to local Ontario livestock farmers as high protein animal feed.

 

SOURCE Spirits Canada

Image with caption: "Where does the money go? (CNW Group/Spirits Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150421_C4352_PHOTO_EN_14568.jpg

For further information: Jan H. Westcott, President & CEO, Cel. 416 707 8851


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