Canada's Alcoholic Beverages Industry

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The great success of the Canadian alcoholic beverages industry can be attributed to a ready supply of high quality raw ingredients, innovative processing and brewing techniques, and the right climate.

Canada's distilled spirits industry is perhaps best known internationally for Canadian whisky, or rye, our most popular domestic and exported distilled spirit. Canadian distillers manufacture spirits using readily available Canadian grains and potatoes and, in the case of liqueurs, fruits and nuts.

In 2002, Canada exported $941.5 million in distilled spirits, beer and wine. Distilled spirits exports totoalled nearly $488 million, beer exports were valued at over $351 million, and wine exports totalled more than $102 million. Of the wine exports, over $90 million included products other than grape wines, such as fermented beverages, cider, fruite wines, sherry, mead and hard lemonades.

From 1992 to 2002, shipments of alcoholic beverages increased significantly for all three industruies. Shipments of alcoholic beverages increased significantly for all three industries. Shipments of spirits increased by almost 52% from a value of $834.2 million in 1992 to a value of $1.3 billion in 2002. Shipments of beer increased 41% from a value of $2.9 billion in 1992 to a value of $4.1 billion in 2002. Finally, wine shipments totaled $290.9 million in 1992 and almost doubled in 2002 to a value of $577.4 million.

Canadian wines are gaining a strong reputation in Canada and abroad. Canadian Icewine, for example, is a sweet dessert wine that is celebrated around the world for its quality and has won several of the highest and most prestigious awards at international competitions.

Canadian Icewine relies on high-quality grapes grown in a cool climate to produce its unique characteristics.

Wines produced under the Vintners Quality Alliance (VAQ) banner must meet strict quality standards. Canadian vintners grow primarily quality Vitis Vinifera and hybrid grape varieties. Many of the old Labrusca grapes have been replaced with the Vinifera varieties (such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon), allowing Canadian wineries to compete successfully with European wines in terms of quality.

Canadian malting barley, which is very high in quality, is in demand by brewers around the world. Canada supplies about 30 per cent of the world's barley.

Innovative products, such as low-alcoholic beverages, wine coolers, fruit wine coolers and hard lemonade, and ales, are gaining popularity, both in Canada and abroad.

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