BACKGROUNDER: LCBO SUPPORT FOR ONTARIO WINE
September 17, 2014
For the last 23 years LCBO has been a steadfast and proud supporter of locally produced Ontario VQA wine, undertaking a variety of initiatives to generate consumer appreciation and sales growth in the industry. The following is a snapshot of the current state of Ontario VQA wines at LCBO and examples of ways LCBO helps increase awareness of and demand for these products to build a sustainable and competitive local wine industry:
Sales performance and trends: In fiscal 2013-14, sales of Ontario wine at LCBO were $396 million, 4.1per cent higher than the year before. VQA sales ended the year at $123 million, growth of nearly 2.1 per cent over fiscal 2012-13. Year-to-date 2014-15, VQA wines are up an impressive 5.8 per cent and significantly outpacing imports.
In fiscal 2013-14, VQA reds showed the strongest growth of 5.4 per cent, demonstrating that customers are embracing red varietal specialties like Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Baco Noir. Other up-and-coming VQA categories include sparkling wines and rosé, which are becoming signature styles of Ontario. Total Ontario VQA table rosé wines sales grew by 3.8 per cent last year, while sales of imported table rosé wines declined by 1.4 per cent.
Since 1991, when the first year of recorded VQA sales at LCBO was approximately $5 million, sales in this category have increased more than 2,300 per cent.
Growing product selection: LCBO WINES category offers 526 Ontario-produced wines, including 330 VQA wines. In fiscal 2013-14, LCBO WINES category released 44 new VQA wines, including many varietal blends, one of the fastest-growing segments. VINTAGES, LCBO’s fine wine and premium spirits business unit, released more than 200 VQA products, including 22 available year-round through the VINTAGES Essentials program. In fiscal 2013-14, the LCBO sold 1,147 different Ontario VQA wines from 104 wineries in the province.
Our Wine Country Boutiques: In September 2013, LCBO launched the first three Our Wine Country Boutiques in St.Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Windsor. These locations have succeeded in bringing the wine country experience to life with an assortment of the best Ontario VQA wines available, including hard-to-find, niche and ultra-premium items. Sales of Ontario wine at these locations have grown significantly. As a result of the success of this pilot, two additional stores are planned for this fiscal year and expanded Our Wine Country sections will be rolled-out in eight other locations.
Small winery support: LCBO’s Go-to-Market program allows smaller Ontario wineries to deliver their products directly to 168 LCBO stores in their own backyard. This program is an effective way for smaller, quality-focused wineries to sell their product on LCBO shelves, especially those that have small quantities to bring to market. The Wines to Watch program, available in 65 stores throughout the province, is designed to help small to medium-sized wineries grow their production, distribution and sales through the LCBO.
WOW (World of Ontario Wines) leaders: LCBO employees take pride in recommending Ontario wines. In 350 LCBO stores across the province WOW Leaders are specially-trained through educational programs that are run in partnership with Wine Country Ontario to promote Ontario wines with customers and colleagues.
Ontario Superstars: Every month, three VQA wines (two LCBO wines and one VINTAGES Essentials), dubbed Ontario Superstars, are featured in some 300 LCBO stores with eye-catching displays. They are also featured at no additional cost to suppliers in each issue of LCBO’s FOOD & DRINK magazine.
Our Wine Country Program: Every other month, there is an Ontario wines promotion with a seasonal theme featuring up to five VQA wines. Featured products are showcased through prominent in-store displays and are supported by innovative advertisements and marketing pieces in major newspapers across the province.
Annual promotion: From mid-September to mid-October, LCBO showcases Ontario wines in all LCBO stores. This annual promotion includes: consumer tastings, in-store Ontario wine and food events, a VINTAGES catalogue featuring VQA wines, a major public VQA wine tasting event called Taste Ontario, advertising and social media elements and information on LCBO’s website www.lcboourwinecountry.com . Ontario is the only wine-producing region that is promoted annually by LCBO.
I Love Canada promotion: In addition to its annual fall promotion, LCBO showcases the diverse selection of Canadian-made wines, spirits and beers in a promotion called I Love Canada each July. In fiscal 2014-15, this promotion boosted sales of featured Canadian wines, most of them from Ontario, by 7.5 per cent.
VINTAGES programs: Local Find features an Ontario wine chosen every four weeks by Ontario wine buyer Astrid Brummer highlighting VQA wines that deliver value from a quality and price perspective. Drawing on the expertise of the person who actually buys VQA wines for LCBO, Local Find is a reliable source for wine recommendations. Featured wines in the program are showcased in VINTAGES bi-weekly release catalogues and in stores.
As well, VINTAGES showcases Ontario wine regions, sub-regions and varietal wines in stores every four weeks (offset two weeks from the Local Find selection) through a program called Local Talent. This program, which features three to four Ontario wines in each cycle, provides an opportunity to educate customers about varietals and styles in Ontario, as well as the regions and sub-regions where they are from. Local Talent wine selections are showcased in LCBO stores and highlighted in VINTAGES catalogues.
VINTAGES catalogues also highlight this program and it is showcased in LCBO stores. Another VINTAGES program, VQA Flagship In-store Discovery, offers customers premium-priced, smaller production Ontario wines by releasing limited quantities to select stores.
FOOD & DRINK profiles: LCBO’s popular magazine features Ontario wine and winemakers in all issues. To support the expanded fall promotional campaign, the autumn issue is specially dedicated to showcasing Ontario wines.
Senior Communications Consultant
Phone: 416 864-6875
Cell: 647 339-5428
Media Relations Co-ordinator
Tel: 416 864-6772
Cell: 416 587-3729