Modernizing the Rules for the Sale and Consumption of Alcohol in Ontario

The provincial government released a questionnaire to the public looking for feedback around their plans to expand the retail landscape for producers of alcoholic beverages. We’d love for you, our valued customers and supporters to have your say.

As it stands now, craft breweries like ours are only able to sell products on-site at the brewery, at the LCBOThe Beer Store, and select grocery stores

This is problematic for myriad reasons. The LCBO, was never built or designed to deal with warehousing, stocking, and selling the products of the nearly 300 craft breweries currently operating in Ontario. They are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of available beers. Despite becoming a destination for craft beer consumers, beer has never been core to its business. The result is an inconsistent shopping experience for customers.

The Beer Store, while focused on selling beer, is owned and operated by AB InBev, Molson-Coors, and Sapporo (all multi-national companies). This, apart from being a serious conflict of interest, is an ethical problem for small producers like ourselves. We want access to the 80% market share the Beer Store enjoys selling to, but not for the price of lining our direct and most contentious competitors pockets. So, we’ve made the decision not to sell our beers there. 

Grocery is a new retail channel for beer and wine in the province. Currently, grocery stores purchase the beer products from the LCBO. The LCBO then buys the products from the breweries and arranges shipment via the producers to the grocery stores. This means that the grocery stores make almost no money selling beer as they need to match the price at the LCBO to remain competitive. This leaves nearly no incentive for them to carefully curate their beer selection. 

Where does this leave us?

Well, for starters, we’d like the ability to sell our beers through our own channels, not just the highly ambiguous options we currently have. We’d love the opportunity to sell our products in the same way cannabis producers are going to be allowed to sell theirs; namely at privately owned and operated shops. This could be in conjunction with other like-minded breweries (The Craft Beer Store…) or as a stand-alone Muddy York Retail Store. 

If you’ve got a few minutes to fill out the government’s questionnaire, we’d appreciate it. Closing Date for this survey is Feb. 1st, 2019, so please don't wait, make your voices heard. 

Muddy York Brewing Co.

NewsSusan Michalek