After a long, typically bureaucratic process, grocers in Ontario are now starting to sell beer, although with a number of catches.
First, due to a highly suspicious agreement with the Beer Store, prices will be fixed for a ten year period. That's right - no price competition between grocers, the Beer Store, or the LCBO - prices will be the same!
Second, only up to six packs will be available in grocery stores. Forget the 12 and 24-packs that you can buy at the Beer Store, and the promotional items that sometimes come inside.
Third, there are only 3 individual stores in Durham Region currently licensed to sell beer, with only the Oshawa store currently offering product for sale:
- Oshawa - Real Canadian Superstore - 1385 Harmony Road North
- Whitby - Farm Boy - 360 Taunton Road East
- Pickering - Metro - 1822 Whites Road
Fourth, 20% of shelf space must be committed to craft brewers. As a big fan of craft beer, I find this condition to be a boon to small brewers and consumers.
Wine sales coming soon?
The Ontario government has hinted that wine sales may soon follow suit. Former TD Bank CEO Ed Clark has been studying the plan, and has found it more difficult to to work around the complex trade rules and existing licenses with the Wine Rack and Wine Shop that currently have space in some grocers.