Beer consumption has been stagnating in Canada in the last decade, although it did fare slightly better in 2018 than in the previous two years, thanks to more favourable weather in the summer for large parts of Canada and widening of the distribution of beer products in provinces like Ontario and British Columbia. Accounting for the lion’s share of total beer sales, lager, particularly mid-priced domestic lager, has been hardest hit as consumers diverged towards either premium products and craft beer or value, economy offerings in the last 6-7 years.
Aligning with changing demographics and consumer preferences for unique offerings and interesting experience and receiving support from major retailers such as LCBO and SAQ, craft beer has gradually risen to significance in terms of share in total beer sales, channel distribution and shelf presence in the last 10 years. It is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
2018 and 2019 were marked as turbulent years for various industries, including alcoholic drinks, as legislation changes and trade friction pose mounting uncertainty for industry participants. Major changes in cannabis legislation finally came into effect in October 2018, and more are expected in the ensuing years, potentially negatively impacting alcoholic drinks sales.
The beer category in Canada is relatively mature and consolidated. Nearly every four out of five litres of beer are produced by Labatt Brewing or Molson Canada in Canada.
Following Labatt Brewing and Molson Canada are a slew of smaller players, including Sleeman Breweries, regional players, and a rapidly growing number of craft brewers. Barriers to entry are relatively low in beer, and over 2016-2018 there was a 30% increase in the number of breweries in Canada, and most of the increase was from craft brewers.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Alcoholic Drinks market research database.