B.C. likes its booze, but beer falls behind

British Columbians love their booze, but beer sales remain among the lowest in Canada. iStock photo

New data from StatCan reveals that British Columbians are among the biggest drinkers in the country, just not when it comes to beer.

The national statistics agency released alcohol sales data for the 2017/2018 fiscal year last week. While British Columbians spent the second most per capita on alcoholic beverages of any province, only 34 per cent of sales were beer—the lowest in the country.

In B.C., total alcohol sales rose 5.0 per cent over the previous year, to $3.5 billion, with beer sales up 3.7 per cent to $1.2 billion. Of those beer sales, Canadian beer was up 4.0 per cent and imports rose 2.2 per cent. Meanwhile, ciders, coolers and other alcoholic “refreshment beverages” rose by 12.7 per cent, making up 6.3 per cent of total alcohol sales. Per capita beer sales in B.C. were third lowest among Canadian provinces, ahead of only Ontario and PEI.

Beer sales across the rest of Canada fell flat, however, with growth of only 0.8 per cent. Nationwide, Canadian beer sales lost ground to imports, increasing by only 0.7 per cent, compared to growth of 1.1 per cent for imported beer.

In total, liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold $23.2 billion worth of alcoholic beverages in 2017/18, up 3.1 per cent from the previous year.

Net income and other government revenue derived from the control and sale of alcoholic beverages, including excise taxes, retail sales taxes, specific taxes on alcohol, and licence and permit revenues, increased 2.0 per cent from the previous fiscal year to $12.2 billion in 2017/2018.

The total volume of alcohol sold reached 3,098 million litres, equivalent to 507.1 standard drinks per person over the legal drinking age in Canada.

Newfoundland led Canadian provinces in both per capita alcohol sales and per capita beer sales.

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