Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Imbibing on the rise in province

Booze consumption up nearly 6 per cent

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OTTAWA -- Manitobans apparently had a lot to drink to last year as Statistics Canada figures showed that we spent more on beer, wine and spirits.

According to StatsCan, Manitobans spent over $586.7 million on beer, wine and hard liquor in the 12 months ending March 31, 2008, up 5.9 per cent over the year before.

However, while we weren't pinching pennies when it comes to our liquor cabinets, Manitobans didn't spend as much on booze as other Canadians.

In Manitoba, per capita purchases of liquor amounted to $607.70, the lowest of all the provinces and territories. Nationally, Canadians spent $687.90 per person on beer, wine and spirits in 2007-08. Yukon residents spent the most at $1,211.70.

Sales growth in Manitoba was influenced in part by a growing fascination with imported spirits and Canadian-made wines but in Manitoba, beer is still king.

"We love our beer," said Diana Soroka, spokeswoman for the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.

Forty-four per cent of all alcohol sales in Manitoba in 2007-08 were for beer and Manitobans purchased over 79 million litres of it that year.

Although the amount of beer sold didn't grow as much as the amount of wine or spirits, Soroka said it was still a better beer year than the MLCC had anticipated.

"Our economy was doing very well, there was favourable weather that summer and low unemployment," she said.

So will the recession in Canada mean beer fridges aren't getting as well-stocked right now? Not so far in Manitoba, says Soroka.

Manitoba's economy is one of the only ones in the country still expecting growth this year and so far Soroka says the sales of alcohol in Manitoba are staying up.

"We were expecting to see a bit of a softening but right now the trends (for 2008-09) are very similar," she said.

When it comes to beer, Manitobans prefer the homegrown variety. Only 10 per cent of the beer purchased in Manitoba in 2007-08 was imported and the amount of imported beer Manitobans bought fell 7.7 per cent in 2008. The amount of domestic beer sold in Manitoba grew 2.2 per cent in the same period.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Total alcohol sales

Twelve months ending March 31, 2008

(Percentage change over 12 months ending March 31, 2007)

Canada

Total sales: $18.8 billion (+4.3 per cent)

Amount: Beer: 2.3 billion litres (+2.2 per cent)

Wine: 425.3 million litres (+4.9 per cent)

Spirits: 210.8 million litres (+2.3 per cent)

Manitoba

Total sales: $586.7 million (+5.9 per cent)

Amount:

Beer: 79 million litres (+1.4 per cent)

Wine: 9.1 million litres (+6.9 per cent)

Spirits: 9 million litres (+2.5 per cent)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2009 A6

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