February 18, 2016
Government to Open up Wine Sales in 300 Locations, Starting with 70 This Fall
Ontario is increasing choice and convenience for consumers and supporting wine producers by making wine available on the shelves of up to 300 independent and large grocery stores. Following the historic introduction of beer in grocery stores last December, 70 grocery stores across Ontario will be able to start selling wine, beer and cider this fall.
Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement today as the government accepted the final recommendations from the Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets, chaired by Ed Clark. These recommendations conclude the council’s review of the beverage alcohol sector.
Other key aspects of the recommendations include:
- Allowing cider to be sold wherever beer is sold in grocery stores
- Including fruit wines and craft cider in a program that allows Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Ontario wines to be sold at farmers’ markets
- Reducing red tape and eliminating unnecessary regulations to increase opportunities and deliver cost savings for producers and their customers, including new opportunities for craft distillers.
Imported and domestic wines will be sold at up to 150 grocery stores. As well, up to 150 existing winery retail stores that are currently just outside a grocery store checkout will be permitted to operate their store inside that grocery store, with a shared checkout, and broaden their assortment to sell the wines of any Ontario producer. Ultimately, up to 300 grocery stores will sell beer, cider and wine.
Ontario is expanding access responsibly. As with beer, restrictions will apply to ensure safe and responsible retailing in grocery stores, including restricted hours of sale and rigorous training for staff. Ontario is also developing a comprehensive, province-wide alcohol policy to support the safe and responsible consumption of alcohol.
Giving consumers more choice and convenience while creating a more dynamic and competitive business environment for wine producers is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan is investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- The bidding and authorization processes will be similar to the beer in grocery store initiative. The first 70 of 150 universal wine and beer authorizations will be issued this fall, allowing grocers to sell wine, beer, cider and fruit wine.
- Up to 150 existing winery retail stores will be permitted to operate their stores inside grocery stores with a shared checkout. These grocery stores will be authorized to sell any Ontario wine, as well as beer and cider.
- To ensure fair representation of grocers and an equitable geographic distribution, the allocation criteria for wine will be similar to beer, with authorizations reserved for independent grocers and allocated across regions.
- VQA wine sales in Ontario were $288 million in 2014-15, a 66 per cent increase since 2009. Ontario now has more than 240 wineries, and the industry has created 2,000 direct jobs.
- Cider is one of the LCBO’s fastest-growing sales categories. Ontario craft cider sales rose by 89 per cent per year from 2011 to 2015.
- All 60 grocery stores from the first Request for Bids for beer are now authorized. Many had beer on their shelves within a month.
- Reducing red tape for businesses in the beverage alcohol sector is part of Ontario’s Business Growth Initiative, which is helping to grow the economy and create jobs by promoting an innovation-based economy, helping small companies scale up and modernizing regulations for businesses.
“Ontario has an emerging craft cider and wine sector and our government’s announcement today will ensure that the sector continues to thrive, while providing a boost to our local producers and the farmers who support them. By increasing the opportunities for craft cider and wines in stores and farmers’ markets we are creating more choice for consumers, supporting a local industry and creating good local jobs.”
— Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
“Finally, people in Ontario will be able to buy their wine and groceries at the same place, at the same time, at the same checkout. This is a win-win-win scenario — more choice and greater convenience for Ontario’s wine lovers, increased opportunities for Ontario’s winemakers and the many farmers who support them, and a brand-new sales channel for wine producers from around the world.”
— Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
“Ontario is expanding opportunities and increasing competitiveness for our domestic wine producers, along with international wines. Ontario’s innovative wine industry is an economic driver contributing to agriculture and tourism, building our economy and creating jobs. We look forward to enhancing market access for our VQA and other local wines.”
— Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
“Following the government’s successful implementation of the beer recommendations, the Council worked carefully to deliver an approach that strikes a sensible balance in a very complex arena. We are confident this final set of recommendations delivers on our commitment to increase consumer convenience and choice while moving forward on government priorities.”
— Ed Clark, Chair of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets