The Premier's Advisory Council on Government Assets announced today their final recommendations to modernize wine and spirits retailing distribution in Ontario. Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement this morning as the government accepted the recommendations.
The Ontario Craft Cider Association is pleased to have been a part of the negotiations and discussions leading up to these recommendations and looks forward to their implementation.
Cider in Ontario is currently sold through the LCBO, Wine Retail Stores, and directly to bars and restaurants. Total annual cider sales in Ontario are around $70 million, of which 70% is imported cider. Ontario craft cider currently has a small share of those sales - around $4 million annually. Cider is one of the most rapidly growing categories with overall growth of 40% last year. The Ontario Craft Cider Association is excited about expanding their share of that market and increasing their retail sales through expanded retail opportunities.
The government specifically announced that cider will be included in the Beer in Grocery initiative, with a certain proportion of a grocer's cider shelf space set aside for products from small cider producers. Ontario craft cider will also be included in the province's Farmers' Market Initiative.
"Ontario craft cider producers welcome the government's decision to permit cider to be sold in grocery stores and farmers' markets. We are excited about the opportunity to open up our local products to greater sales channels to reach Ontario consumers. This announcement supports our vision to develop and maintain a world-class cider industry in the province using only local fruit from Ontario farmers" said Thomas Wilson, Chair of the Ontario Craft Cider Association.
Most significantly, the government has been advised to consider whether there are alternative mark-up structures for cider that would better enable small producers to scale up.
"This is wonderful news. Cider has long been in a conundrum when it comes to sales and tax structures. To have the government recognize that although cider is officially classified as a wine, it is considered by consumers to be more comparable to beer is a big step forward. We look forward to continuing to work with the government to develop a micro-cidery strategy that will expand this exciting and growing industry" stated Wilson.
SOURCE Ontario Craft Cider Association
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