'Buck-a-Beer' coming back to Ontario

Andrew Cummings
August 8, 2018

The Government of Ontario has announced that it will be rolling back the minimum retail price for a standard 341 ml bottle or 355 ml can of beer to $1 from the current $1.25 as of August 27th, keeping a campaign promise made by Premier Doug Ford earlier this year.

Brewers would not be required to charge less, however, and the lower minimum price would not apply to draft beer, nor would it include the bottle deposit.

Annual indexing for all packaged beer will be suspended to maintain the $1.00 minimum floor price over time. "I'd be shocked if you saw a lot of breweries jump on this buck-a-beer thing". That minimum price had been $1.25 under the Liberal government for a decade.

They are going to brew a Buck a Beer, high quality, special product to take advantage of the opportunities here.

It is unknown if any additional Ontario craft breweries will participate. He says any brewers that agree to lower their prices will be given LCBO promotional considerations such as "limited-time discounts, in-store displays on end aisles and shelf extenders, or advertising in LCBO flyers and newspaper inserts".

Ford responded to such questions Tuesday, saying: "I think people in Ontario are mature enough ... to know when they've had one too many".

The price of beer cans has jumped in recent months because of the escalating trade war with the United States which has slapped a 10-per-cent tariff on aluminium.

"There's definitely no money in it", said Big Rig's Ladell. "The margins are so tight".

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said there are no financial incentives from the government and the tax portion of the cost of beer is not being reduced.

Ontario Craft Brewer's Simmons said he isn't hearing much support for the initiative from his members.

"I'd like to pay less for a case of beer when I go into a store".

Soberman explained to Global News that not all brewers will take on the "challenge" - especially not companies with pricier products. "Here we have a premier who is cutting income to the very poorest amongst us as a priority, and at the same time subsidizing buck-a-beer", referring to the recent cancellation of the basic income pilot program.

A number of other breweries, including Great Lakes Brewery, Muskoka Brewery and The Napanee Beer Co., voiced frustration with the initiative and vowed that they wouldn't participate. Lakeport, the brewery that adopted and popularized "buck-a-beer" in the past before being purchased by Labatt, also still sells for just $1.60 a can.

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