Eggnog makers seek a year-round market

Millions of glasses of eggnog will go down the hatch this month, but marketers are wondering how to stretch that holiday tradition into a year-round habit.

Canadians consume eggnog in great quantities each year, but will they drink it year-round?

Eggnog as we know it, is a holiday treat. But could the egg and cream Christmas concoction change to a year-round beverage? (CBC)

Millions of glasses of eggnog will go down the hatch this month, but marketers are wondering how to stretch that holiday tradition into a year-round habit.

Ted Lawson of Saputo, a leading eggnog marketer, says that most of that eggnog will be poured out of one-litre cartons, or in two-litre cartons in some cases.

But Lawson, the vice-president of marketing at Saputo, told CBC News there is a dream of selling eggnog from single-serve containers, making it more of a year-round beverage instead of a seasonal one.

"It’s a product that we talk about every year," Lawson said of the single-serve bottle of eggnog, though he notes it has not happened yet.

Instead, Saputo will press ahead this year with seasonal eggnog production runs to meet the demand from consumers in Ontario and other provinces.

Saputo makes the treat available for Thanksgiving before taking a brief break and then selling it again for the last weeks of the year.

In Ontario, the company's eggnog is sold under the Neilson brand name.

The eggnog business is one "that you love to be in," Lawson said, as it’s something that customers look forward to.

Millions of glasses will be poured

Over the past nine calendar years, Canadians have consumed between 5.7 and nearly 7.0 million litres of eggnog each December, according to Statistics Canada data collected from dairy producers.

The statistics agency says it doesn’t provide those numbers by province "for reasons of confidentiality."

Some eggnog producers are reluctant to talk about their business, including both Metro and Sobeys Ontario, which told CBC News they would not share the sales figures from their private label manufacturers.

But Lawson said that Saputo is the leading eggnog maker in Canada and holds a 44 per cent share of the market and thus its numbers would be representative of the larger picture.

More than a third of its eggnog will be sold in Ontario, which based the Statistics Canada-gathered data, would suggest that at least two million litres of eggnog will be sold in Ontario this month.

Lawson said that "eggnog is not very popular at all in Quebec," where Saputo sells just 3.5 per cent of its annual stock.

Eggnog isn’t a traditional product in Quebec and also has an unflattering name in French — lait de poule, which roughly translates as hen's milk.

Eggnog a seasonal item for dairies big and small

Eggnog is a big enough business for large and small dairies to get in on the action.

The Bobcaygeon, Ont.-based Kawartha Dairy has been making eggnog throughout the month of December with the same recipe that the company has used for the past 76 years.

Their rich holiday treat is a popular product, which Shaun Dunn, the dairy’s director of sales and marketing, says leads to calls from distant customers.

Dunn said he’s had repeated calls about people looking for the eggnog they had "up in the Kawarthas."

Kawartha Dairy expects to sell 75,000 litres of eggnog this year, mostly throughout the local cottage country area north of Toronto.

In Listowel, Ont., located about 160 kilometres west of Toronto, Harmony Organic will whip up more than 16,000 litres of eggnog.

Sue Earl, a marketing and sales assistant, told CBC News in an email that Harmony has been making eggnog for about six years and sells it to customers in Ontario and Quebec.

"People love it in the bottle," Earl said, referring to the signature one-litre glass bottle that it's sold in.

Adding alcohol, or buying it pre-mixed

Statistics Canada data appears not to include the non-dairy eggnog products sold through Ontario's provincially owned liquor outlets.

Lisa Murray of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario says the organization has been selling ready-to-drink eggnog products for the past 10 years.

In the last fiscal year, the LCBO sold 47,534 litres of ready-to-drink eggnog.

Murray said that as of the start of this December, the LCBO had already sold 20,000 litres.

The LCBO says it is currently stocking three specific products — Old Tom’s Original, Evan William Egg Nog and Vodka Mudshake Egg Nog.

The LCBO urges those holding parties this holiday season to take steps to prevent drunk driving. Members of the public can consult the LCBO's Deflate the Elephant website for tips on responsible hosting.


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