The Ontario Craft Brewers

The Ontario Craft Brewers

May 15, 2006 11:20 ET

Ontario Craft Brewers Experience Significant Growth in Sales, Job Creation and Recognition Over Past Year

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 15, 2006) -

Attention: News/assignment editors, business editors, food editors and beer writers

More Consumers Discovering Ontario Craft Beers as Sales Increase by 33% in LCBO Stores in Ontario in 2005/06 over 2004/05

One year after the formation of the Ontario Craft Brewers' (OCB) marketing cooperative and Government of Ontario announcement of $5 million in funding over five years, the 30 Ontario craft brewers from communities throughout the province today announced significant increases in sales, employment, investment and recognition.

Sales of premium Ontario craft beers in LCBO stores have increased by 33 per cent in net sales and 34 per cent in volume in fiscal 2005-06 compared to fiscal 2004-05. Volume sales of premium Ontario craft beers in the total Ontario beer market have increased by more than 10 per cent over the past year.

Ontario craft beers own five per cent of the hotly competitive Ontario beer market, up one percentage point from 2005. The goal of Ontario Craft Brewers is to increase its share of the Ontario beer market from four per cent in 2005 to 12 per cent in 2014.

The 30 Ontario Craft Brewers currently employ more than 450 people, up 17 per cent from May 2005. With five per cent share of the Ontario beer market, craft brewers account for 20 per cent of all direct brewery employment in the province. The Ontario Craft Brewers' goal is to create 1,000 new jobs by 2014.

"The McGuinty government is on the side of entrepreneurs who help hard-working families succeed, and create opportunities for future generations of Ontarians," Minister of Economic Development and Trade Joseph Cordiano said. "That's why we're proud of the $5 million investment we have made in the Ontario Craft Brewers to support their marketing initiatives. When these businesses grow and succeed, they strengthen our vibrant economy that will bring long-term prosperity to all Ontarians."

"The exceptional growth in Ontario craft beer sales in LCBO stores over the past year is a clear indication of both the quality and future potential of Ontario craft beers," said Public Infrastructure Minister David Caplan. "This is an example of a great partnership to provide consumers with high quality Ontario products and continued support of a successful, home grown industry."

More than $15 million in capital investments have been made into the Ontario craft brewing industry in the past two years. For example, Amsterdam Brewing Company, Cool Beer Brewing Company and Mill Street Brewery are all building new breweries to increase capacity. Brick Brewing Company recently opened a new warehouse and bottling line. Robert Simpson Brewing Company and Niagara's Best Beer opened new breweries in 2005.

"2005 was a great year for Ontario craft beers and we expect 2006 to be even better! Thanks to the support and belief in the potential of Ontario craft beers by the Government of Ontario and our partners at the LCBO, our industry is growing and vibrant," said Gary McMullen, chair of the Ontario Craft Brewers and president, Lakes of Muskoka Brewing Company.

"LCBO employees enjoy working with the Ontario Craft Brewers to help our customers discover the quality and value of these locally produced beers," said LCBO Acting Chair and CEO Philip J. Olsson. "Our in-store promotional activities, feature displays and knowledgeable Beer Guys and Beer Gals, provide LCBO shoppers with excellent opportunities to learn more about these premium beers and the foods they match."

Over the past year, the LCBO has undertaken initiatives to promote Ontario craft beer and provide an ideal retail environment to showcase the products. For example, the category is supported in-store by 100 Beer Guys and Beer Gals, specially trained LCBO staff designated to promote Ontario craft beers to customers, and display fixtures exclusively showcasing Ontario craft beers in key LCBO locations.

New for 2006, the LCBO will be expanding the display fixtures and adding more in-store signage. During the LCBO 's month-long summer beer promotion from July 16 to August 12, Ontario craft beers will be prominently featured to encourage customers to try them. There will also be in-store tastings, including an Ontario Craft Beer Fair on July 28 to 30 at the LCBO Summerhill store in Toronto.

Six new members have joined the OCB since May 2005 and the association now represents 90 per cent of all eligible brewers in Ontario. The new members are Beau's All-Natural Brewing, Better Bitters Brewing Company, Glenora Springs Brewery, Maclean's, Old Credit Brewing Company and Taps Brewing Company.

The OCB's 2006 marketing program features a number of elements including a targeted summer sampling program throughout the GTA, a new advertising campaign themed "The Ultimate Reward" launching this week, and consumer reward promotions including backyard BBQs with brewers, craft beer and craft beer-inspired cuisine; weekend getaways featuring VIP tours of breweries and tutored tastings; spa getaways and prepared Ontario craft beer dinners. Promotion of the "Ontario Craft Beer Experience" continues with increased distribution of the new 2006 Ontario Craft Beer Route maps and daytrip ideas available at the newly re-launched www.ontariocraftbrewers.ca.

The Ontario Craft Beer Route

Since the launch of the Ontario Craft Beer Route in July 2005, visits to craft breweries, located in five designated craft brewing regions throughout the province, have increased significantly. The five craft brewing regions are Toronto (eight breweries), Golden Horseshoe (nine), Capital Region (four), Lake Country (three), and Greater Southwest (six). Daytrips along the Ontario Craft Beer Route offer visitors opportunities to taste great craft beer, tour breweries, and experience the unique culture and beauty of local communities.

The Ontario Craft Brewers

The Ontario Craft Brewers are a group of 30 small breweries dedicated to brewing great tasting beer in Ontario. Together, the breweries produce more than 120 handcrafted, premium beers, brewed in a wide range of authentic international styles and each with its own individual character. The 30 Ontario Craft Brewers brew their beers locally in communities throughout Ontario - from Carleton Place to Windsor and Niagara Falls to Bracebridge. Since 2000, Ontario craft beers have won more than 200 awards in major national and international competitions.

Ask for Ontario craft beers at the breweries' retail stores, pubs, restaurants, and select LCBO and The Beer Store locations throughout Ontario. For more information on The Ontario Craft Brewers, visit www.ontariocraftbrewers.ca.

Contact Information

  • JKR Communications
    Kristen Rector or Jennifer Kitchen
    (416) 486-2286 or (416) 576-5892
    Mobile: (416) 705-5412
    krector@jkr.ca