February 19, 2016 1:00 P.M.
Ontario is increasing choice and convenience for consumers and supporting fruit wine and cider producers by making fruit wine and cider, along with 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 yesterday that the government has 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.
“Ontario has an emerging craft cider and fruit wine sector and our government’s announcement today will ensure that the sector continues to grow and thrive. By increasing the opportunities for craft cider and fruit wines in stores and farmers markets, we are creating more choice for consumers to support a local industry while creating jobs across Ontario.”
-Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
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 and cider 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 includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province's history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.
There are 19 craft cideries and over 40 wineries that produce fruit wines in Ontario.
In Ontario, cider usually has a five to seven per cent alcohol content and is gluten-free because it is made of fruit, not grain.
83 wineries and 212 farmers’ markets participate in the pilot program, with sales of more than $1.4 million dollars.
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.
All 60 grocery stores from the first Request for Bids for beer are now authorized. Many had beer on their shelves within a month.
Cider is one of the fastest growing sales categories in the LCBO. Ontario craft cider sales rose by 89 per cent per year from 2011 to 2015.