tp-nb-beer

Sales of NB Liquor's Selection Lager and Selection Light have slumped since it was unveiled in March. ((CBC))

New Brunswick's government-owned beer brand struggled through the last long weekend of the summer as consumers continued to drift away from the controversial public brew.

Selection Lager and Selection Light sold a combined four cases of beer at three of the province's largest retail outlets on Labour Day, according to NB Liquor's inventory lists.

The four cases of beer represent a fraction of the sales of other brands of beer sold during the holiday Monday. NB Liquor kept six stores open across the province on the statutory holiday.

Still, Nora Lacey, a spokeswoman for NB Liquor, said the beer is a success and it will continue marketing it.

 Selection Lager, Light sales (cases of 12 cans)
 March (19 days)  26,677
 April  18,237
 May  18,972
 June  15,323
 July  10,759
 August  10,500

The beers, Selection Lager and Light, are being brewed exclusively for NB Liquor, a Crown corporation, by Saint John-based Moosehead Breweries.

The Selection brands are sold for $18.67 for 12 cans.

The province launched its own discount brands last March in an attempt to combat sagging beer sales and cheap prices available just across the border in Quebec. 

Selection sales down 75%

Last week, NB Liquor released figures showing the two brands sold a combined average of 339 cases a day in August, 75 per cent worse than sales following its successful launch in March.

During the first 19 days in March, after Selection first hit the shelves, NB Liquor sold 26,677 cases. Those figures dipped to 18,237 cases in April and in August they bottomed out to 10,500.

At NB Liquor's outlet in Saint John's Parkway Mall, inventory lists show consumers bought just one case of Selection Light on Monday and no Selection Lager, compared to 71 cases of Bud and Bud Light.

At Fredericton's Prospect Street store where Selection was first launched, Monday sales were also just one case, while in Dieppe consumers bought two.

In Saint John on Friday, consumers who have tried Selection gave a variety of reasons for avoiding it, most commonly loyalty to other brands.

"I'm just a Moose Light fan," said Jeff Winters.

Some consumers like Jimmy Eldridge said they never liked the beer.

"It just upsets my stomach," Eldridge said. "It just does not agree with me."

Cans hard to find

At Saint John's Golden Mile Redemption Centre, workers say Selection's dwindling sales have been obvious for months as recyclers brought in fewer and fewer Selection cans. 

Mike Benjamin, a supervisor at the redemption centre, tipped over two large recycling bags holding 2,000 beer cans each but could only find three with the Selection logo.

"There was a lot of it coming in when it first started and now there's not much at all … as you can tell," said Benjamin.