Joe Wiebe, one of the directors of Victoria Beer Week, speaks to the crowd at an event last year at the Victoria Public Market. Among Canadians, British Columbians purchase the least amount of beer as a share of total sales. Christian Tisdale Photography

British Columbians drink less beer than other Canadians

Despite proliferation of micro-breweries, B.C. records lowest share of beer sold in Canada

British Columbians — surprisingly — do not appear to like beer, as they buy less than other Canadians as a share of total sales.

According to new figures from Statistics Canada, beer accounted for 34 per cent of all alcohol sales in British Columbia in 2017-2018, the least among Canadian provinces and territories. Beer accounted for 60.7 per cent of all alcohol sales in Nunavut.

Total beer sales have generally remained flat across Canada. Total beer sales rose 0.8 per cent to $9.2 billion during 2017-2018, and one per cent over the past 10 years, a figure that will likely strike many as surprising when held up against the proliferation of micro-breweries and beer varieties, especially in B.C. Beer’s overall share is 39.7 per cent of alcohol sales across the country.

RELATED: B.C. locations listed among top beer cities in Canada

Wine, by contrast, is becoming increasingly popular, while not yet replacing beer. During 2017-2018, wine sales grew 4.6 per cent to $7.5 billion. As a share of the overall market, wine sales increased 0.4 per cent to account for 32.4 per cent of total alcoholic beverage sales.

Among Canadian provinces and territories, wine was most popular in Quebec, where the sales share reached 43.8 per cent. Saskatchewan buys the least amount of wine, accounting for 15.2 per cent.

When drinking wine, Canadians prefer red over white, with reds accounting for 52.8 per cent of total sales, followed by white wines (32.2 per cent) and sparkling wines (5.9 per cent). Rosé, fortified and other wines accounted for the remaining wine sales.

Spirits, meanwhile, accounted for 23.7 per cent of total alcohol sales in 2017-2018, up from 23.4 per cent in 2016-2017. Ciders, coolers and other refreshment beverages accounted for 4.2 per cent of total sales of alcohol in 2017/2018, up from four per cent in 2016-2017.

In total, liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold $23.2 billion worth of alcoholic beverages, up 3.1 per cent from the previous year. The government’s cut, meanwhile, rose by two per cent to $12.2 billion in 2017-2018.

Overall, the volume of alcohol sold reached 3,098 million litres — the equivalent of about 507 standard drinks per person over the legal drinking age in Canada.


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