Ontario to Allow Beer Sales at Select Grocers  11/19/2015

Canadian grocery chains will be allowed to sell beer at some of their Ontario stores by year’s end, according to an announcement by the Ontario government yesterday, which listed 13 grocers already selected for the first round of beer sales, based on a Request for Bids that closed November 6.

Initially, 60 stores will be authorized to sell beer, with locations announced in December, 2015. Over the coming years, up to 450 grocery stores will be authorized, with the goal of ensuring fair competition and distribution, including small and large grocers from across the province.

The successful grocers in the first round included both large chains and independent grocers, and include:

  • Coppa's Fresh Market
  • Farm Boy 2012 Inc.
  • Galleria Supermarket
  • Hanahreuem Mart Inc.
  • J & B La Mantia Ltd. (La Mantia's Country Market)
  • Loblaws Inc.
  • Longo Brothers Fruit Market Inc. 
  • Metro Ontario Inc.
  • Michael-Angelos Market Place Inc.
  • Pino’s Get Fresh
  • Sobeys Capital Incorporated
  • Starsky Fine Foods Hamilton Inc.
  • Wal-Mart Canada Corp. 
Bidders were selected based on their proposed margin rate (between 3 and 9.99%) – the amount the bidder would make on beer sales. Authorizations are distributed across four geographic regions: Western Ontario, the Greater Toronto Area, Eastern Ontario, and Northern Ontario.

To qualify to sell beer, a grocery store must carry a full line of food products in its store, have at least 10,000 square feet of retail space for food products, not primarily identify as a pharmacy -- even if a pharmacy is located in the store. No single grocer can win more than 50 percent of available authorizations per region, or more than 40 percent of the total available.

Click here to read the complete rules on eligibility

A variety of beer brands will be sold in grocery stores, with small brewers having a strong presence in all locations where beer is sold. The price of beer will be the same across all retail outlets (grocers, the LCBO and the Beer Store). Prices will remain below the Canadian average while improving convenience and increasing choice for customers.

AGCO Authorization Needed
Prior to being able to sell beer, these successful grocers must first obtain authorization from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), to ensure social responsibility and other criteria are met.

According to AGCO, grocery stores must follow strict controls and mandatory rules when selling beer as part of the government's commitment to ensure that alcohol is sold in a socially responsible manner. Beer cannot be sold to anyone under Ontario's legal drinking age of 19 or to intoxicated adults; the sale of beer must adhere to standard hours of sale and can only be available in a designated section of each store; and all staff selling beer must be fully trained to ensure that Ontario's standards for social responsibility are always met.

Once authorized by the AGCO, grocers will enter into a supply agreement with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). The LCBO is the sole supplier of beer for grocery stores.

Wine and other spirits
The Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets is continuing discussions with wine and spirits producers on how to provide greater opportunities for Ontario's wine industry in a trade-compliant fashion. The Council is expected to make recommendations to the government later in 2015.


Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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