OTTAWA (CP) — The latest national figures suggest Canadian palettes — at least when it comes to alcohol — are becoming somewhat more sophisticated.
Beer and liquor stores and agencies sold $19.4 billion worth of alcoholic beverages during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009, three percent more than in the previous year.
Statistics Canada attributes the dollar growth to an increase in sales of imported spirits and beer compared with domestic products, and a one percent average increase in the cost of alcoholic beverages.
In litres of absolute alcohol — pure alcohol, free of water — the agency says the volume of sales of alcoholic beverages increased 1.6 percent to 226.4 million litres.
But while beer by far remained the most popular alcoholic beverage in terms of both volume and dollar value, StatsCan says its market share declined.
In 1993, beer peaked at 53 percent of dollar sales and wine accounted for 18; by 2009, the market share of beer had declined to 46 percent, while wine had captured 29.
Beer stores and agencies sold 2.3 billion litres of beer in 2009, a 0.9 percent increase from the previous year. Per-capita beer sales have dropped 28 percent from their peak of 115.2 litres in 1976 to 83.5 litres in 2009.
The growth in sales volume of imported beer continued to outpace that of domestic products. The volume of imported beer sold increased 7.8 percent in 2009, while domestic beer sales stayed the same.
By volume, imported beer has more than doubled its market share in the last decade. In 2009, imported beer had captured 13 percent of the beer market in Canada, up from six percent in 1999.
Beer stores and agencies sold $8.8 billion worth of beer during the year, up 2.2 percent. Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta were the largest contributors to this growth.
The agency says the net income recorded by liquor authorities, combined with other alcohol-related revenue such as liquor licences and permits, reached $5.4 billion in 2009, up 3.6 percent.
Saskatchewan, Nunavut and Nova Scotia reported the largest increases.
Wineries and liquor stores and agencies sold $5.7 billion worth of wines, up 4.6 percent from the previous year.
In terms of volume, wine sales reached 441.4 million litres, a 3.8 percent increase. The growth in sales of domestic wine outpaced the growth of imported wine sales.
StatsCan attributed much of the strength in wine sales to the rising popularity of red wines. Sales of red wine, which includes both red and rose wines, accounted for 64 percent of the total volume of wine sold.
Dollar sales of red wine have more than doubled — up 161 percent — between 2000 and 2009, while white wine dollar sales rose at a much slower pace (50 percent) during the same period.
Liquor stores and agencies sold $4.9 billion worth of spirits during the year ending March 31, 2009, up 2.9 percent from the previous year. This gain was due mainly to a 5.6 percent increase in vodka sales.
The volume of sales of spirits decreased 0.2 percent in 2009 to 210.3 million litres.