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Beer sales down, spirits up

Canadians are buying less beer, but more wine and spirits, according to Statistics Canada, which reported Thursday that Canadians spent $21.4 billion on alcoholic beverages in the last fiscal year, up 2.2 per cent from a year ago.

Beer is still the favourite tipple in Canada as sales totalled $9.1 billion for the year ended March 31, but that was down 0.1 per cent from a year ago

And by volume, sales of domestic beer fell 1.7 per cent to 2.0 billion litres, while import beer sales dropped 3.8 per cent to 300 million litres.

The drop was a continuation of a longer-term trend.

Beer sales for the year amounted to 78 litres on a per capita basis, down from 83.6 litres in 2003.

The drop in beer sales came as wine sales grew by 4.9 per cent in 2013 to $6.8 billion and sales of spirits were up 2.9 per cent to $5.4 billion.

The volume of wine sold also increased 3.9 per cent to 506.6 million litres, while the volume of spirits sold rose 2.7 per cent to 222.4 million litres.

Wine sales on a per-capita basis amounted to 17.4 litres, up 4.3 litres per person in 2003, while spirits sales totalled 7.6 litres per person last year, up 0.1 litres per person over the same time period.

In 2013, beer had 43 cent of the market in terms of dollar value, compared with half in 2003. Wine stood at 32 per cent last year, up from 24 per cent over the same time period.

Provincial and territorial liquor authorities netted $6.3 billion in the fiscal year ending in March on sales of alcohol, and earnings from liquor licences and permits.

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