Ontario to offer incentives to brewers in buck-a-beer plan

Aug 10, 2018, 02:00
Ontario to offer incentives to brewers in buck-a-beer plan

Advertisment Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce on Tuesday that the provincial government will reinstate "buck a beer" and expand the sale of beer and wine to corner and box stores throughout the province.

Ontario previously had buck-a-bottle beer but the Liberal government quietly hiked the minimum price in 2008, citing its "social responsibility" mandate. "We're going to continue on doing what we are doing and the consumers will decide if our beer is the right price or not". He also indicated there are no tax incentives involved and tax payers' money will not be used. "It's a buck-a-beer challenge - they'll have end of aisle when it comes to the LCBO, they might have those shelf extenders, they might be able to go into the LCBO, but it's costing the taxpayers zero", Ford told reporters Tuesday.

The minimum price of a bottle or can of beer is to be lowered to $1 from $1.25. "It's interesting that there is nobody at the $30 floor", said Scott Simmons, president of the Ontario Craft Brewers Association.

Eric Portelance, who co-owned Halo Brewery in Toronto until earlier this year, said the buck-a-beer challenge is "insulting" to brewers and distorts the market by devaluing their product.

The province's move to try and roll back prices at a time when the cost to produce beer is at an all-time high is puzzling to many across the province.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said there are no financial incentives from the government and the tax portion of the cost of beer is not being reduced.

The new price will not apply to draft beer sold in restaurants and bars or ciders, spirits and wine. "The Premier is asking the beer producers to lower their price". "The margins are so tight".

"None of our members are going to be interested in participating simply because they can't afford too", Simmons said, adding that if the government wants to lower beer prices for consumers it needs to look at lowering the taxes applied against alcohol sales in the province. It's up to brewers to actually pass down the savings of $1 beer to consumers.

While the buck-a-beer program existed a decade ago, few breweries have shown interest in matching the cheaper price today. "We firmly believe that you really do get what you pay for", the brewery wrote.

A number of other breweries, including Great Lakes Brewery, Muskoka Brewery and The Napanee Beer Co., voiced frustration with the initiative and vowed that they wouldn't participate.

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