Canadians want to order wine and have it shipped across provincial lines
We’ve known that Canadians want to order directly from wineries in other provinces, with deliver to their door. No ewe have the statistics to back that up. And the wheels are in motion to instigate some long-needed change.
Between November 22 and 28, 2017, Gandalf Group surveyed 1,008 Canadians, asking about their ordering habits and alcohol purchasing preferences. This survey was commissioned by the Canadian Vintners Association (CVA), prior to their appearance as an intervenor in the Comeau vs New Brunswick Supreme Course trial (see note below article), which took place on December 6 and 7, 2018.
The results were clear: 87% of Canadians believe consumers should be permitted to order wine for delivery directly to their home from any Canadian Winery, in any province. “As an association that presents all sized wineries in Canada we are very happy with the results. It is clear that Canadians want access to Canadian wines,” explains Asha Hingorani, Director of Government and Public Affairs at the CVA. “And 88% of Canadians believe that Canada’s agricultural and wine industries will benefit if there are more ways in which local wine can be purchased. These are great numbers to show government and Canadians.”
In addition to how they want to receive their wines and the benefit to the economy, the survey also covered their ordering habits. With the exception of Alberta residents, 80 to 95% of all wine purchases are made at the government mandated retail outlets.
“Since the passage of Bill C-311, only three provinces – British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia – have amended provincial laws to allow DTC into their province,” says Hingorani. “Manitoba currently permits any wine to be imported into the province, while BC and Nova Scotia permit 100% Canadian wine to be direct delivered from a licensed winery in Canada.” The method of purchasing wine in those three provinces differed only in that 27% of BC and 19% of Atlantic consumers order wine from directly from the winery (nearly 10% higher than in other provinces).
These restrictions on Canadian-made products limit our ability as consumers to promote and support local producers. “The direct delivery sales channel (from out-of-province wineries direct to their customers) would support winery growth, offering them sales opportunities beyond ‘brick & mortar’ liquor board stores, which do not have sufficient shelf space to carry growing supply,” explains Hingorani. “Enhancing markets for local agricultural products across Canada keeps jobs at home, in rural areas; expands our economy; and enhances food security as a nation by keeping agricultural land in production at home.”
The frustrating part for consumers is the fact that, if the provinces allowed for across-province ordering capabilities, it would allow them to experience new Canadian products and, here’s the kicker, wouldn’t change their existing ordering habits. “It has been demonstrated in British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia that direct to consumer has had no impact on their provincial revenues over the years since they have amended their legislation to allow for the direct interprovincial shipping of wine,” states Hingorani. “In fact, all three provinces have seen their sales revenues continue to increase, including in the wine sales category specifically.”
So, the facts speak for themselves, but having a voice in the industry and in front of the people who can make the changes in the government is equally as important. If you’re interested in adding your voice to the charge, Hingorani says you can help by going to FreeMyGrapes.ca: “CVA created a consumer advocacy group known as FreeMyGrapes (FMG) to lobby provincial and territorial governments and build federal support for the removal of barriers to interprovincial wine trade. The CVA encourages consumers to send a letter to your provincial presentative to tell them that Canadians deserve freedom to order their wines from anywhere in Canada to their home.”
The legal landscape as it currently sits in Canada prevents consumers from ordering and/or transporting alcohol for personal use above set quantities over provincial lines. These quantities change from province to province. As does, in some cases, the interpretation of personal use. While this law isn’t always enforced, it is taken seriously, as Gerard Comeau found out in 2012. He was fined for transporting several cases of beer, as well as bottles of wine and spirits over the Quebec/New Brunswick border. He contested the fine and his case went to trial in 2016, where the trial judge ruled in his favour. The case was then taken up to the Supreme Court where, on December 6th and 7th, he along with intervenors like the CVA, pled the case for free-trade on all Canadian wines and alcohols.