Beer drink of choice among Canadians

If you’re an average beer drinker in Manitoba, a new report pegs your consumption at about 240 bottles a year.

That’s the fifth-highest per capita consumption of beer in Canada and slightly higher than the national average 235 bottles, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada.

From Farm to Glass: The Value of Beer in Canada looks at the entire supply chain supporting beer production, pointing out its benefits include $5.8 billion in tax revenues for all levels of government nationally, including $130.8 million here in Manitoba.

More popular than wine or spirits among Canadians, consumption of beer accounts for 8.1 per cent of all household spending on food and beverages.

What the report dubs “the beer economy,” which includes brewing industry as well as retail sales, transportation and wholesale distribution, plus the agricultural products needed to make beer also supports 163,200 jobs, or one in every 100 across the country.

“Beer has been a part of Canadian life for hundreds of years,” Pedro Antunes, director, National and Provincial Forecast says in a CFOC news release. “The beer economy is a significant employer. No matter where people buy beer, they support jobs across the country.”

Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta aren’t large beer brewers compared to other parts of Canada but agricultural production of the malting barley, plus distribution and warehousing are the economic generations here. But the main money is generated by drinking the beer itself, the report says.

“The bulk of the beer economy in the Prairies is focused on the consumption aspects of beer demand,” the report said. “Beer is a popular beverage choice in this region, and much economic activity is generated in the food services, retail, and recreation and amusement industries.”

The report says beer consumption across the country supports 20,394 jobs in the three Prairie provinces, including 3,658 related jobs in Manitoba. Alberta, where much higher volumes of beer are sold supports some 12,968 full-time jobs. Alberta has a more self-sufficient beer economy than elsewhere on the Prairies, due to its significant beer-brewing capacity, the report said.

Beer consumption accounted for $13.8 billion in annual economic activity in Canada on average in 2009-11 — the three most recent years for which detailed beer consumption data are available.

In 2012, residents in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and the Prairie provinces consumed more beer than the Canadian average; British Columbians consumed the lowest amount.

Yukon has the highest per capita consumption, at 385 bottle-equivalents per person in 2012.

The business of beer has national reach and impact, the report concludes, noting that almost every industry in Canada is supported in some way by the beer economy — from grain production for ingredients, to the forestry and manufacturing that goes into producing the packaging.

“It’s also far reaching in the geographical sense,” the report concludes, adding that there are significant spinoff benefits to the economy as a a result of the combined industries in the beer economy. For every $1 spent on beer, $1.12 in GDP is created in the Canadian economy, it said.

The study was commissioned by Beer Canada. It is publicly available at www.conference board.ca/e-library/default.aspx.

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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