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Monday, August 25, 2008

"I've Had Enough" - Nfld Reader on NLC

It's not just Ontario citizens that are upset with the way their province regulates the sale of our favourite alcoholic beverage. This Newfoundlander has had enough and decided to write a letter to his elected representatives and members of the Newfoundland Liquor Corp (NLC). Here are Frank's words - straight from the hip.

“It’s time consumers had the advantage of a market economy when it comes to beer.”

While the Ontario system is different than Newfoundland's, there are many parallels. In Newfoundland, corner stores are able to sell beer, but they are only allowed to sell domestic products. The Newfoundland Liquor Corp is a Government run monopoly, just like in Ontario. And just like Ontario the NLC gives preference to the wine consumer over the beer lover. The NLC's website shows around 120 individual beer brands (187 brands minus the 70 or so same beers in other packaging sizes). The NLC website shows 2515 different wines (only about 40 were other package formats).

The NLC also has a policy that beer must make $15,000 in sales to avoid de-listing. There is no such policy for wine. Fine wines don't sell in large volumes so exceptions are made for it. Fine ales and beers won't sell in large amounts either (though that segment is growing, in Newfoundland and elsewhere) but the NLC won't continue to stock a smaller volume, good beer, selection.

My dislike of the NLC comes from its de-listing of the excellent Propeller Porter. It sold very well in the NLC stores in the East end of St John's, but not so well in other locations. It was sold out in the east end stores months before it sold out elsewhere. Instead of continuing to supply the demand in the east end of St John's, they de-listed it. This would not happen to a wine.

We need private beer stores in Newfoundland like they have in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec, the United States and most of the free world.

The Ontario MPP's words are equally applied here in Newfoundland.

“It’s time consumers had the advantage of a market economy when it comes to beer.”

It should also be noted that Newfoundland only has the NLC. No Beer Store. And while they do have corner stores selling beer, they can only sell domestic products as Frank mentions (Jockey Club, Dominion, Blue Star, Quidi Vidi etc.. no imports from other provinces or great brewing nations).


5_55 said...

By selling only "domestic" beer, do you mean only beer form Nfld or from Canada? I'm sorry, I got a little confused. Anyway, good luck with finding good beer!

Troy Burtch said...

The "domestic beer" the corner stores are allowed to sell is only Newfoundland made domestic beer. No Mill Street or Unibroue in the convience stores there.

5_55 said...

I guess if corner stores in Ontario could only sell Ontario beer, we would be OK :)

Anyway, I did some searches on the Nfld liquor store website, and the selection makes our LCBO look positively amazing...

Teena in Toronto said...

I was in a liquor store in St. John's last May and thought they had a wicked beer section and dark rum section.

Nice meeting you tonight, Troy :)

5_55 said...

OK - so I can't sleep and decided to check the beer selection at NLLC. Here are the results of my searches:

1) Beers from England: Total 4. Wow, that's just beyond sad! And by counting 4, we include two packaging options for Newcastle Brown. So 3, really.

2) Beers from US: Total 4, including two options for that famous, tasty legend, Miller Genuine Draft. Is this really the case? Hard to believe.

3) Beers from Belgium: Well, just 1 (Stella Artois) but sold in 5 different ways. Who can resist "Stella Artois Gift Tube"? Noooooobody!

I'm getting depressed. Frank, is this correct? Is it possible that the search function doesn't work properly. It can't be that bad, it just can't. If you ever make it to Toronto, let me know and we'll try to remedy the situation.

Frank said...

Hey Zoran, your searches are correct.
Its a sad situation here. I kept quiet about it until they de-listed Propeller Porter and Propeller Bitter. In May Pilsner Urquell was brought in and I was very happy with it having just returned from the Czech Republic. But the supply has been very spotty. Its been sold out for well over a month at all stores within 200 kms. This during August when it would sell the best. Now I'm afraid the NLC will de-list it because it didn't make its sales projections. Frustrating!! Its not like they don't have the ability to bring in good products. By all accounts the NLC has a world class wine selection.


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