Today the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB), the voice of craft beer in Ontario, is applauding today’s news that the Master Framework Agreement (MFA) will expire and for government delivering on its promise to expand Ontario’s alcohol retail system that puts consumers first and will make it easier to find and buy local craft beer.”It is great news for our sector that government is expanding the province’s alcohol retail system, which will put consumers first and make it easier for Ontarians to find and purchase local craft beer. 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, said Scott Simmons, President, OCB. “Our Association has also sounded the alarm about the absolute need to lower craft beer taxes, which are the highest in Canada’s, and today’s commitment to work with our sector to review beer taxes, fees and mark-ups are critical. We will keep working to get that done as quickly as possible because both retail expansion and tax reform is critical to ensuring local craft breweries can grow in existing and expanded retail channels.”The OCB has long highlighted that Ontario makes some of the best craft beer in the world, but that the current retail model artificially restricted the growth of the craft beer sector. Expanding retail is important, but it is critical that the new system also ensures more of the beer on local shelves is locally owned craft beer so consumers can find the beer they want. That is what we are also pleased that government has made supporting local producers the cornerstone of the new system that includes:
- Maintaining shelf space requirements in existing channels and expanding them to all new ones;
- Prohibiting stocking fees and other trade spend; and,
- Ensuring direct delivery for breweries and other changes to help craft brewers get their beer onto store shelves.
Today is also a big step forward on the OCB’s push to lower the taxes craft brewers pay in Ontario, which are currently the highest in all of Canada. Earlier this year we launched the Keep Craft Beer Local campaign to raise awareness and the urgent need for change and we are thrilled the government has agreed in writing to “review beer taxes, fees and mark-ups” is a direct result of the Association and its member’s advocacy and we will work tirelessly for our members to have reforms completed as quickly as possible.“We are bringing Ontario’s beverage alcohol system into the 21st century and that’s incredibly exciting”, concluded Simmons. “The OCB has been relentless in pushing for a system that supports the 340+ small businesses that make up Ontario’s craft beer sector, and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and finalize the remaining elements of the new system, because if done in the right way, will be a game changer for our craft beer lovers and locally-owned breweries.”