"major initiative" to boost ontario craft beer....

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Kel Varnsen
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Postby Kel Varnsen » Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:46 am

dale cannon wrote: Think of Couche Tard in QC, every single one sells the exact same beer. That's because it's a centralized decision.

See that makes sense and would totally be advantageous. I always figured that even chain convenience stores worked in a franchise model with an independent owner who could pretty much order whatever he wanted based on what sells.
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Postby Steve Beaumont » Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:55 am

Any initiative that favoured craft beers would be subject to a near-immediate and likely successful NAFTA challenge, so unless they've devised something that is near bullet-proof, this is a complete non-starter. The only way the private sector gets into booze retailing in Ontario is an an equal access basis, which is why I view private specialty stores as a more likely first step.

If I own a specialty beer store, for instance, I may stock some Labatt and Molson product for the random punter who lives nearby, but my focus is going to be on hard-to-get craft and import. Equal access, selective stocking.
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Postby Tapsucker » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:10 am

I've always said these guys would be better off picking a fight with the beer store and not with the LCBO. A legal challenge to a private monopoly has a lot more legs than tangling with a crown corporation and it's revenue.

Also, if this were to become a reality, who's to say the LCBO would not continue to certify and manage distribution? We would probably end up with the same selection and possibly even higher pricing with only the retailing being different. Kind of like Alberta. With so many LCBO outlets, I'm not sure if there would end up being a consumer benefit.
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Postby Kel Varnsen » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:21 am

Steve Beaumont wrote:Any initiative that favoured craft beers would be subject to a near-immediate and likely successful NAFTA challenge, so unless they've devised something that is near bullet-proof, this is a complete non-starter. The only way the private sector gets into booze retailing in Ontario is an an equal access basis, which is why I view private specialty stores as a more likely first step.


But if the initiative is coming from the private store owners and they want to focus on Ontario products they can't really be forced to carry products fromt the US can they? I mean as long as the US products can be made available if the store owner doesn't want to order them is there anything anyone can do?
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Postby dale cannon » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:44 am

Kel Varnsen wrote:
Steve Beaumont wrote:Any initiative that favoured craft beers would be subject to a near-immediate and likely successful NAFTA challenge, so unless they've devised something that is near bullet-proof, this is a complete non-starter. The only way the private sector gets into booze retailing in Ontario is an an equal access basis, which is why I view private specialty stores as a more likely first step.


But if the initiative is coming from the private store owners and they want to focus on Ontario products they can't really be forced to carry products fromt the US can they? I mean as long as the US products can be made available if the store owner doesn't want to order them is there anything anyone can do?


I agree.

I can't see how facilitation of sales of domestic products by a private group, so long as it doesn't exclude the sale of foreign products, could be considered a violation of NAFTA. Look at it the other way around. If there were a successful challenge by a foreign party, their success would be in preventing certain domestic producers from utilizing an established distribution system to sell their product domestically. That's crazy talk.
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Postby dale cannon » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:49 am

Tapsucker wrote:Also, if this were to become a reality, who's to say the LCBO would not continue to certify and manage distribution? We would probably end up with the same selection and possibly even higher pricing with only the retailing being different. Kind of like Alberta. With so many LCBO outlets, I'm not sure if there would end up being a consumer benefit.


{products that are, or can be, approved for sale in Ontario} >> {products actually sold at LCBO stores}
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Postby saints_gambit » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:52 am

Steve Beaumont wrote:Any initiative that favoured craft beers would be subject to a near-immediate and likely successful NAFTA challenge, so unless they've devised something that is near bullet-proof, this is a complete non-starter. The only way the private sector gets into booze retailing in Ontario is an an equal access basis, which is why I view private specialty stores as a more likely first step.

If I own a specialty beer store, for instance, I may stock some Labatt and Molson product for the random punter who lives nearby, but my focus is going to be on hard-to-get craft and import. Equal access, selective stocking.


I agree with this. The question is really one of whether the focus on local products is seen to be endorsed by the government. If there's privatization of the entire sector it would make sense for individual businesses to be able to stock whatever they want since there's no mandate dictating what their inventory should contain. In most cases private stores would stock American stuff anyway because this is a business, after all, and the mass produced stuff still sells.
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Postby Kel Varnsen » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:55 am

Kel Varnsen wrote:
squeaky wrote:Plus getting into corner stores would be the best thing that's ever happened to craft brewers. They could finally sell bottles of their smaller brews somewhere other than from the brewery and whatever they can sell in kegs to bars.


Would it be though? I mean lets say that every corner store is allowed to sell beer on top of every beer store and LCBO. How many more sales reps would each brewery need so that they could go around to every corner store and get orders taken for one case of beer at a time? That's kind of why I prefer if the system changed as off sales through bars. I mean breweries already have relationships with bar owners and know which bars can move their products.


Plus the reality is that I doubt there would be too many US brewers who would really want to sell in Ontario convenience stores even if they could. I mean selling to the LCBO is nice because it is one point of contact and even if you have to jump through hoops it gives you access to a huge market. But even most of the big US players in craft brewing aren't even in every state in the US (for example I think New Belgium and Stone are only in like 30 or so states). So even if they could sell in Ontario corner stores I doubt they would want to deal with things like having reps up here, plus shipping across borders, then dealing with labeling requirements including the metric system, when instead they can just expand their distribution in their own country.
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Postby Cass » Tue Oct 29, 2013 11:52 am

Kel Varnsen wrote:
Cass wrote:While it's commendable for the convenience store association to try to get the craft brewers on board, with the OCB so deeply embedded into the LCBO I would suspect they'll never publicly support it.


On the other hand, there are a ton of Ontario breweries that aren't OCB members.


Yeah, but the OCB holds weight with the media. If Indie Alehouse and Bellwoods came out to support convenience stores (not that I suspect they would), it wouldn't have the same impact.
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Postby Cass » Tue Oct 29, 2013 11:54 am

Kel Varnsen wrote:
Kel Varnsen wrote:
squeaky wrote:Plus getting into corner stores would be the best thing that's ever happened to craft brewers. They could finally sell bottles of their smaller brews somewhere other than from the brewery and whatever they can sell in kegs to bars.


Would it be though? I mean lets say that every corner store is allowed to sell beer on top of every beer store and LCBO. How many more sales reps would each brewery need so that they could go around to every corner store and get orders taken for one case of beer at a time? That's kind of why I prefer if the system changed as off sales through bars. I mean breweries already have relationships with bar owners and know which bars can move their products.


Plus the reality is that I doubt there would be too many US brewers who would really want to sell in Ontario convenience stores even if they could. I mean selling to the LCBO is nice because it is one point of contact and even if you have to jump through hoops it gives you access to a huge market. But even most of the big US players in craft brewing aren't even in every state in the US (for example I think New Belgium and Stone are only in like 30 or so states). So even if they could sell in Ontario corner stores I doubt they would want to deal with things like having reps up here, plus shipping across borders, then dealing with labeling requirements including the metric system, when instead they can just expand their distribution in their own country.


No offence, but this kind of 'non-starter' thinking keeps us exactly where we are. Nobody can say what would happen if we had a more open market.

Agree with Steve, my position has always been to start with allowing speciality beer stores. It's a hole in the market that isn't truly represented by either LCBO or TBS.
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Postby Cass » Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:42 pm

Announcement:

http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1250833 ... craft-beer

Convenience store chains unveil major initiative to dedicate one-third of retailing space for Ontario wines and Ontario craft beer
New retail channel would create big opportunities for local craft beers and Ontario wines to be sold right in the communities where they are made and across the province

QUEEN'S PARK, TORONTO, Oct. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario's leading chain convenience stores, including 7-Eleven, Mac's (Couche Tard), and Petro-Canada, a Suncor Energy business, announced today that when Ontario modernizes its alcohol retailing system, Ontario craft brewers and wineries will be the first to benefit. Retailers announced a plan to voluntarily set aside at least 30% of beer and wine retail space for Ontario wines and craft beer, creating significantly more consumer exposure and retailing opportunities than they currently have - especially in the communities where they operate.

"Convenience stores are local community retailers and we're perfectly suited to help promote and support Ontario's local craft breweries and Ontario wineries. Our pledge will mean that, in addition to the space LCBO provides, even smaller Ontario wines and craft beer will have guaranteed access to a large dedicated space in retailers around the province," said Dave Bryans, President of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA). "Even better, by working with the LCBO as Ontario's wholesaler of alcohol, it would mean that the Ontario government would benefit too, through bigger profits for the LCBO and more revenue for priorities like education and health care."

Retailers signing the pledge include: 7-Eleven Canada, Mac's Convenience (Couche-Tard), Petro-Canada, Hasty Market, Rabba Fine Foods, Daisy Mart, Quickie Convenience, Winks, Avondale and more. Visit www.freeourbeer.ca for the full list of retailers.

"Not only does our plan dedicate 30% of space to Ontario craft beer and wines, so they don't have to fight the big brewers for shelf space, it also allows small craft brewers and Ontario wineries access to a modern, established distribution and logistics system to get their products into stores," added Bryans. "Our distribution partners have the ability to cost-effectively ship even a single bottle of wine or six-pack of beer to individual stores. Gone are the days when stores needed to buy in large quantities and manufacturers needed to own fleets of trucks for distribution."

Convenience Store Ontario Craft Beer & Ontario Wine pledge

Ontario convenience stores already sell alcohol in almost 200 locations in Ontario through the LCBO Agency Store program.

Ontario Convenience Stores Association members have been shown through independent testing to be the best at age checks, stopping more minors from purchasing age-restricted products than the government-run LCBO or the foreign-owned Beer Store.

Ontario Convenience Stores Association members have demonstrated they're ready for the responsibility to offer alcohol at more locations, and to help the Ontario government grow the $1.7 billion in profit that the LCBO already contributes.

Convenience stores are local businesses and want to support the growth of the rich and diverse Ontario craft beer and Ontario wine industries in the province.

As local businesses, convenience stores want to create new opportunities for local craft brewers and wine producers to showcase their products right in their own communities.

To achieve this Ontario Convenience Stores Association members pledge to:
Voluntarily set aside a minimum of about one-third (30%) of alcohol retail space to promote, display and sell Ontario craft beer and Ontario wines when expanded alcohol retailing comes to Ontario.

Boost local craft beer and Ontario wines by focusing on stocking local brands, and giving them greater exposure right in the communities and regions where they're created.
SOURCE Ontario Convenience Stores Association
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Postby grub » Tue Oct 29, 2013 1:53 pm



wow, that's a great way to pitch it and get support from all the ontario beer/wine folks. a great stepping stone toward getting all those producers to sign on in support against the big guys - and yet they still get the security of not being completely pushed out of that market. will be interesting to see where this goes.
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Postby saints_gambit » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:46 pm

grub wrote:


wow, that's a great way to pitch it and get support from all the ontario beer/wine folks. a great stepping stone toward getting all those producers to sign on in support against the big guys - and yet they still get the security of not being completely pushed out of that market. will be interesting to see where this goes.


Same place it always goes. Away for six months. Then it comes back and the fundamental revenue structure hasn't changed and no one will have comissioned a study to suggest that it would change for the better. We'll have articles about this for two weeks and then it'll go away until the May 24 weekend. Just like last year and the year before.

It's a little like the swallows returning to capistrano.
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Postby Cass » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:50 pm

They need to actually get the thing publicly supported by producers, which would be a good next step in the right direction.

Like I said, commendable that they're trying - these are no small companies trying to do something (unlike Loblaws, etc. who as already mentioned don't seem interested in the issue).

I've sent an email to the OCB to see if they would publicly support it. We'll see what they say.
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Postby Rob Creighton » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:28 pm

The OCB head (John Hay) has already provided a dismissal of this effort which I assume means he is speaking for us though it is certainly not GRB.

I'm not sure what great fear this sparks in the heart of the average Ontarian but it strikes me as pathetic and cowardly. (Not something Canadians are renowned for)

We are a small beer producer looking to sell beer to a growing, interested population where even our town (which was not a craft beer market) is showing both support and pride in our work.

A trip into Buffalo, Syracuse or Niagara Falls shows me C-stores, large chains and liquor retailers where craft is thriving! The local Buffalo ball field has the craft beer corner where great beer is not only available but reasonably priced and the food was superior to anything in the sleazy, corporate monstrosity across from Steamwhistle.

What prevents the average Ontario resident from maturing into a normal, reasonably calm citizen of 2013? Fear of crazed craft beer drinking zombies aimlessly wondering the streets, smoking cannibus outside C-stores? Really? (This is not taking a shot at anybody from North York where this is common).

If we (the royal "we") had 1 store in every major urban area that focused on craft, and all other C-stores sold BMC, we would still be so busy that we would never keep up. The number of manufacturing licences for beer is now over 100 and at least 40 more are about to open. The LCBO has already told us that they no longer have room on their shelves for all of the craft products and have turned us down for a number of releases.

I'm not sure what the business model is for a number of new start-ups but we will not sit by and get steamrolled (Freudian?) into oblivion because we didn't "get permission" to sell beer in a government controlled autobot warehouse. It is the right time for change. The C-stores are only one option but we do not object to them. Screw the naysayers.

For those not in the industry, the predicted upcoming merger/buyout of ABInbev and SABMillerMolsonCoors has been announced with a pricetag of $100 billion. I love it. Bring on the evil empire and sharpen my light saber. Never tell me the odds!

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