Ontario Government Ending Beer Store Agreement & Expanding Alcohol Sales in Province

TORONTO, ON – In a move that some have described as the most significant change in alcohol legislation since the end of prohibition, the Government of Ontario has announced that it will be ending its current Master Framework Agreement (MFA) with The Beer Store, and will be opening up the retail market for beer and other alcoholic beverages to thousands of additional outlets in the province.

The changes were announced during a press conference held earlier today by Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy, and include the following:

  • The MFA – which doesn’t allow retailers except for The Beer Store to sell beer in formats larger than six-packs, and caps grocery store sales licenses to 450 locations – will not be renewed past its current term, which ends on December 31st, 2025.
  • Grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and big-box retailers in Ontario will be able apply for licenses to sell beer, wine, cider, and ready-to-drink cocktails starting in 2026. Beer Store outlets will also remain in operation.
  • Retail sales of spirits will remain exclusive to the government-owned LCBO stores.
  • As at current licensed grocery stores, at least 20 per cent of shelf space for beer at private retailers must be dedicated to craft beer, and 40 per cent of cider and wine must come from Ontario producers.
  • The LCBO will remain the exclusive alcohol wholesaler in the province, and The Beer Store will continue to be the primary distributor of beer to bars, restaurants, and retailers until at least 2031, although breweries will also be allowed to use other distribution channels if they choose to do so.
  • Retailers will be free to set their own prices for alcohol products, as long as they are not below minimum price points that will be set to “preserve standards for responsible consumption.”
  • The Beer Store will continue to operate the province’s recycling program for beer and alcohol containers until at least 2031.

“The Ontario Craft Brewers applaud the government for delivering on its promise to expand the province’s alcohol retail system, which will put consumers first and make it easier for Ontarians to find and purchase local craft beer,” said Scott Simmons, President of Ontario Craft Brewers, in a statement. ” We are particularly pleased the government is building the system to support Ontario-made producers, for example, by maintaining dedicated shelf space for craft beer and continuing to prevent stocking fees so consumer choice determines what is on the shelves.”

The Beer Store, which is the commonly used trade name of Brewers Retail Inc., is owned and operated by majority owners Molson, Labatt, and Sleeman, with less than 0.02% of ownership shared by a number of other Ontario breweries.

For more details, see the full announcement.

Source: Government of Ontario

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