Are Canadians Drinking Less Beer? – YES

Posted on April 23, 2010


According to the official release of statistics Canadians increased their Wine consumption in 2009 and decreased their beer consumption to only 83.5 Litres per annum or 250 beers per person..

The stats released by Stats Canada  for 2009 who are an official number crunching division that our taxes help pay for to tell us interesting and uninteresting stuff. Thankfully there are good public service agencies in Ottawa. 2011 Data not analysed in this data set.

So it appears now Canadians are drinking 83.5 litres which in lamens terms is about (250 cans of beer) or 2 cans every 3 days. Keep in mind the Czech Republic are drinking about 165 litres per person (500 Cans) which is 1.5 cans a day, in Ireland they are drinking about 140 litres. So obviously some of us are pulling our weight in the system and some are lagging behind. Keep in mind this beer is in cans, bottles, at the bar and any other way you can drink beer.

(** Note Per capita data are based on the population aged 15 and over.**) – Me thinks thats probably a fair age.. instead of 19.

Having lived in both Toronto (LCBO)  and Vancouver(BCLB) and both provinces having government controlled liquor stores and industry bodies that ensure all beer and wine coming into the country is accounted for.Though it doesn’t account the beers every time I cross the border, my cases are filled with American craft beer that can’t be purchased in Canada. My friends and colleagues who cross are the same. (No Official Stats for that). You’re allowed 2 bottles of wine or 24 bottles of beer per person. Beer is the best option!! Also  these stats excludes the hugely growing trend in Home Brewing, though these beers cannot be sold as its only for home consumption.

“Beer stores and agencies sold $8.8 billion worth of beer during the year ending March 31, 2009, up 2.2% from the previous year. Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta were the largest contributors to this growth.”

So We can say that the Quebecois and West Coast are growth provinces. The other highlight was imported beers were up 7.8%, which one supposes are brands like (Corona, Heineken, Sol, Budweiser, Bud-Light, Bud Light Lime). This is no surprise as it was in 2009 when Bud Lite Lime became the most sought after beer, with stores running out of stock. Molson-Coors, AB-Inbev have already stated their sales of beer to distributors are down 2-3% in their annual results, but their highlights were in their imported brands.  Import brands will continue to expand in Canada as a growth product due to the influx of immigrants from Europe, Asia and Central America and the trendy bottle with ‘Brand X’ on it.

The Increased sales of Wine is what the dominance factor of the article. There was definitely a trend in home consumption as many people stayed home to drink instead of at restaurants, and there was a huge view to save money. This trend is not only in Canada but in the United States as well, whereby expensive bottles were still bought, but shared amongst friends.

Much of the strength in wine sales can be attributed to the rising popularity of red wines. Sales of red wine, which includes both red and rosé wines, accounted for 64% of the total volume of red and white wine sold.”

Canadians have a great selection of wine compared to many countries around the world due to the buying power of the provinces, and with the Wine Glut globally (more wine than can be sold) it provided great values for European and New World Wines. The high Canadian dollars helped some expensive US bottles come down in price substantially.(CDN$ = US$) today as I write this. Usually it can be anywhere from 60-80 cents to $1USD.

One of the major areas of growth in the US has been in craft beer with 2009 increase 7.2% on volume than the year before. This is also making a dent in the large beer companies bottom lines as they try and work out how to compete against the growing trend in craft beer. At the moment the only advantage that the large companies have is in the distribution networks, whereby smaller brewers do not have these in place yet.

From an overall perspective I feel that Canadians are getting more versed in wine, with only the UK having stores with as much global selection as Canadians. The beer front is interesting as I know many a Bud and Coors drinker, but I’m also meeting more ‘New’ Craft beer drinkers, who are at festivals, beer bars and are seeking out Local beer. Instead of buying a 24 pack of macro beer they are buying 2 six packs of craft beer. In BC there are more private liquors that are specializing in craft beers and imported beers that are helping to educate people in beer, much like specialized wine stores.

The trend downwards is not a surprise as the large companies already told us that in their annual reports a month or two ago, as well as the increases in import beers. It would be great to see where craft beer comes in on these stats, instead of just being mixed in amongst the beer stats.(I know wishful think).  I would think the growth in craft beer in BC and Ontario would be an interesting statistic for many, including the Molson-Coors and AB-Inbevs of this world.