The change to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores came about as a BC Liquor Policy Review recommendation to the BC government to respond to calls for convenience by consumers. According to the B.C. Liquor Policy Review Final Report “Allowing liquor to be sold in grocery stores drew more public interest and comment than any other topic examined in the Liquor Policy Review. By the end of our public engagement process, almost 75 per cent of people commenting were generally in favour of changing the regulations to allow for access to liquor products in grocery stores”. However, it should be noted that none of the wine industry stakeholders recommended grocery store sales in their submissions. Hence it is not surprising that 6 months after the April 1, 2015, introduction of the new liquor policy the private liquor retail industry, some private wineries and the BC Government and the Service Employees Union seem to be united against the grocery sales model – albeit for different reasons. All those opposed to the liquor reforms are seemingly acting in their own best interests with some pushing for a 6-month moratorium on selling wine in grocery stores.
As of December 2015, there are 4 BCWI BCVQA wine stores currently located in grocery stores: Wines of British Columbia Save-On-Foods Fleetwood; Langley; South Point & Tsawwassen – each of which has over 900 different, and distinct, BCVQA 100% BC wine on their shelves. Two BCVQA licenses in Kelowna are expected to be transferred to grocery stores in January 2016. All of these grocery stores are operated by The Overwaitea Food Group / Save-On-Foods.
What seems to be lost in this process was the consumer hope for lower prices. It is well known that BC has some of the highest liquor prices in North America. Most wine industry submissions to the BC Liquor Policy Review recommended a reduction in PST from 10% to 7% to match other BC agricultural product. A number of polls show that the BC consumer does not believe the sale of liquor in grocery stores will reduce the price.
We can only wait and see how the new policy implementation proceeds. Please feel free to comment on the policy change below.
1. B.C. Liquor Policy Review Final Report
2. BCGEU calls for 6-month moratorium on selling wine/cider/sake in grocery stores
3. 3. Overwaitea to ramp up grocery store wine sales
4. Wine stores shutting down
5. BC wine in grocery stores – The Facts.
6. 6. Anthony Gismondi: Grocery store wines a consumer agenda
7. Vancouver city council votes to postpone pilot project to allow grocery stores to sell BC wine