Wholesale price hikes for private retailers contradict Justice Minister Suzanne Anton's claim about liquor reforms

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      Justice Minister Suzanne Anton has claimed that B.C.'s liquor reforms aren't driving up prices.

      However, wholesale price lists obtained by the Georgia Straight indicate there have been whopping hikes imposed on retailers after they lose Liquor Distribution Branch discounts on Wednesday (April 1).

      It remains to be seen whether these prices will be passed along to consumers when the changes take effect.

      Below, you can see examples of price increases on some wholesale wines between March and April of this year for independent wine stores, which will no longer enjoy a 30 percent discount.

      • Kendall Jackson Grande Reserve has shot up by 84 percent.

      • Langmeil Three Gardens 2010–11 Shiraz-Mourvedre-Barossa is up 69 percent.

      • Kruger Rumpf 2009 Pinot Blanc has risen 68 percent.

      • Fuchsia California white is up 64 percent.

      • El Portillo Sauvignon Blanc 2009 has risen by 63 percent.

      • Caramel Road Pinot Noir is up 56 percent.

      • Alvaro Espinoza Maipo Kuyen has risen 54 percent.

      • Cambria Julia's Pinot Noir has increased by 51 percent.

      • Poggiotondo Toscana Rosso IGT and Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut Cabernet Sauvignon have gone up 50 percent.

      • Sofia Coppola Blanc de Blanc is up 49 percent.

      • Le Cadrans de Lassegue has risen 46 percent.

      • Angove Nine Vines Grenache Shiraz Rosé is up 44 percent.

      • Angove Coonwarra Cabernet Sauvignon has risen 43 percent.

      • Clos du Val Carneros is up 42 percent.

      • Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva is up 41 percent.

      • Poggiotondo Toscana Bianco and Cameron Hughes Napa Lot 332 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon are up 37 percent.

      • Waterbrook Riesling and Arceno Il Fauno di Arcanum 2010 Toscana are up 36 percent.

      • Angove Long Row Moscato and Rafael Rosso Piceno have increased by 35 percent.

      • Matetic Corralillo Sauvignon Blanc and Freemark Abbey Chardonnay have gone up 34 percent.

      • Chariot Gypsy California red wine is up 33 percent.

      • Peter Lehmann Clancy's Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Crios Red Blend, and Crios Syrah Bonarda are 30 percent more expensive.

      • Real Compania Garnacha and Real Compania Tempranillo have increased by 29 percent.

      • Terrapura Cabernet Sauvignon, Terrapura Carmenere 4, Terrapura Sauvignon Blanc, Terrapura Chardonnay, Estampa Estate Blend Malbec Petite Syrah, and Scarlett's Spritzers Elderflower Lime have risen 21 percent.

      Independent wine stores face many more double-digit increases in wholesale prices over this one-month period.

      Things are also grim though not quite as bleak for private liquor stores, which will lose their 16 percent discount.

      Many craft-beer prices and spirits will go up at the wholesale level after they pay new Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale prices on April 1.

      According to a different price list obtained by the Straight, B.C.-brewed "microbrew" beers will be 17.5 percent more expensive at the wholesale level, on average, for private liquor stores. They will also face 14.4 percent more expensive B.C. "regional beer" at the wholesale level, on average, and a 9.5 percent average hike for B.C. "commercial beer".

      All of this data appears contradict what Justice Minister Suzanne Anton told the Straight earlier this month: "If you're a private store owner and you were paying $10 for a bottle of wine on March 31, you should pay about $10 for that same bottle of wine on April 1."

      In an interview with the Straight earlier this week, Vancouver lawyer Mark Hicken pointed out that the government plans to move to "pretax shelf pricing" on April 1, which will make the bottles initially appear less expensive to consumers.

      That's because unlike today, the 10 percent provincial sales tax and five percent goods and services tax won't appear on the sticker price.

      However when consumers arrive at the cash register, those taxes will be included in the bill.

      "My expectation, actually, is that the prices in government liquor stores—the end tax-included price—will be almost the same," Hicken said. "That's because government directed the LDB to do that. The margins are extremely slim with those prices."

      However unlike the LDB, the private retailers don't have the luxury of racking up fat profits at the wholesale level. Nor are the private retailers allowed to sell wine, beer, or spirits to restaurants.



      Snooze Button

      Mar 27, 2015 at 12:05am

      These new prices are certainly good news for Alberta wine sales and Washington state tourism. They must be thrilled by the stupidity of these BC Liquor reforms.

      This is bad news however, for the tourist industry in BC. One less reason to visit BC. It won't be the first time for the "business minded" BC Liberals to ruin an industry and I'm sure not the last.


      Mar 27, 2015 at 7:34am

      All this wasted effort and time to take a horrible system and make it worse. Seriously, dont we elect politicians to make our lives better?

      Put the business in the hands of the private sector. I wish the government would stay out of alcohol sales completely.


      Mar 27, 2015 at 7:42am

      Whatever happened to that political notion of "bread and circuses"? By taking away the public's joys in life, more attention is drawn to the sh@#$y government and its problems.


      Mar 27, 2015 at 7:51am

      All this wasted effort and time to take a horrible system and make it worse. Seriously, dont we elect politicians to make our lives better?

      Put the business in the hands of the private sector. I wish the government would stay out of alcohol sales completely.

      Here is an idea

      Mar 27, 2015 at 7:53am

      Hey susan here is an idea to make this whole thing work better.

      1.) Make it cheaper.
      2.) Let private stores compete for restaurant business
      3.) Let all super markets carry wine and beer regardless of their proximity to a liquor store
      4.) did I mention make it cheaper?

      the LDB is ours (the people of BC) so make it better for US!


      Mar 27, 2015 at 2:22pm

      I really hate that woman.

      Jo Diaz

      Mar 27, 2015 at 8:13pm

      Petite Sirah - according to the ABC - now has only one spelling, with an "i." Petite Sirah


      Mar 27, 2015 at 9:12pm

      This only reconfirms my long-held view that Suzanne Anton has the mind of a duck.


      Apr 1, 2015 at 9:54am

      I suspect Suzanne had little/no say on the setting of the new wholesale prices. This is, pure and simple, a stealth tax grab by Mike de Jong, no doubt sanctioned by Christy Clark, so that the Liberal government can continue to claim we have the "lowest income taxes in Canada." We have to make up for this distinction with a plethora of new and/or increased regressive "user fees" (e.g. MSP premiums).

      The grocery store liquor purchases, (albeit more expensive) "happy hours", etc. are just shiny bauble distractions acting as a smoke screen for introducing their real agenda: milking us for more excise taxes.