Is wine poised to take over beer's reign in Canada?
Published Monday, March 26, 2012 10:17AM EDT
Forget the champagne flutes, stash the punch bowl and shelve the lowball glass. When it comes to alcohol, Canadians are still clamouring for a pint of ice-cold beer.
But despite its persistent popularity, an analysis released Monday by Statistics Canada suggests the brew's dominance may be in slow decline.
The agency found that beer sales were down 0.4 per cent during the last fiscal year, with merchants selling only $9.1 billion worth of beer.
On the rise, however, is its grapey relative: wine.
Wineries and other vendors sold $6.1 billion worth of wines during the last fiscal year, amounting to a 5.0 per cent increase in sales from the year before.
While wine hasn't managed to overtake beer, the perennial frontrunner at bars around Canada, numbers hint that the gap between the two beverages is beginning to narrow.
For instance, Statistics Canada reports that beer had a market share of 52 per cent (by dollar value) in 2000, while wine had 23 per cent. But by 2011, beer's market share slumped to 45 per cent while wine's share rose to 30 per cent.
It's unclear whether beer drinkers are trading in their pint glasses for vineyards and aroma tests, but Statistics Canada notes that one thing is certain: more and more consumers appear to be turning to wine.
It's worth noting that Statistics Canada's sales numbers shouldn't be interpreted as an assessment of how much beer or wine Canadians are actually drinking. Those figures would have to factor in sales from approved vendors, plus homemade beverages, duty-free sales, unrecorded transactions and more.
The agency's recent report is exclusively based on data from licensed liquor authorities.
Even so, Statistics Canada found that the volume of wine sales across the nation increased three per cent to 470 million litres in 2011 from the year before.
Despite wine's apparent momentum, the agency found that beer still holds steady as Canada's alcoholic drink of choice. Certain provinces were particularly loyal to their hops and barley, with Yukon's beer sales up by 4.4 per cent and Ontario's up 3.1 per cent.
On the whole, beer and liquor stores sold $20.3 billion worth of alcoholic beverages during the last fiscal year, which ended on March 31, 2011. Overall sales were up 2.0 per cent from the previous year.