The Ontario government has chosen the 13 retailers that will be the first grocery stores to sell beer in the province, a move that could happen as early as next month.
The retailers, a mix of large and independent grocers, were chosen via a "competitive bidding process," and must now apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for authorization for individual stores.
Once that application process is complete, beer could go on sale at up to 60 locations by December, the finance ministry said Wednesday in a news release.
The retailers are:
- Coppa's Fresh Market
- Farm Boy 2012 Inc.
- Galleria Supermarket
- Hanahreuem Mart Inc.
- J & B La Mantia Ltd. in Lindsay
- Loblaws Inc.
- Longo Brothers Fruit Market Inc.
- Metro Ontario Inc., with locations across the province
- Michael-Angelos Market Place Inc.
- Pino's Get Fresh in Sault Ste. Marie
- Sobeys Capital Incorporated, with locations across the province
- Starsky Fine Foods Hamilton Inc.
- Wal-Mart Canada Corp.
Outside of the five big chain stores — Loblaws, Longos, Sobeys, Wal-Mart and Metro — Farm Boy is a medium-sized chain with 19 locations across the province, mostly around Ottawa and Eastern Ontario, while the rest of the grocers have three locations or fewer.
Coppa's has three locations in North York, Scarborough and Vaughan; Starsky has two in Mississauga and one in Hamilton; Hanahreuem Mart has three locations in Richmond Hill, North York and north Toronto; Galleria has two locations in Thornhill and York Mills; Michael-Angelos has two in Markham and Mississauga; La Mantia has one in Lindsay; and Pino's has one in Sault Ste. Marie.
"We are moving quickly to ensure that beer will be sold in grocery stores in a socially responsible manner," Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in the news release.
"Using the existing low-cost distribution system keeps Ontario's beer prices below the Canadian average while offering greater ability to fund key government services and programs that people rely on," he said.
"We want to make sure that we don't simply bring more precarious work into Ontario," she said. "Walmart jobs for us are not a good replacement for well-paying, decent jobs in that sector right now," she said.
Retailers will have to follow certain guidelines when selling alcohol, including having designated sales areas, restricted hours for sale, and limits on package sizes and how much alcohol can be sold by volume.
The move follows an announcement from the provincial government last April that it planned to expand beer sales to grocery stores. The Liberal government aims to have beer on shelves in up to 450 grocery stores across the province.
In September, the Liberal government announced other changes, including:
- Imposing a 20 per cent minimum shelf space for small brewers in The Beer Store network.
- A move to open up The Beer Store ownership to other players in the industry.
- Grocery store retailers will not be subject to a strict cap on sales. When fully phased in, should sales across the grocery network exceed $450 million, grocers whose sales exceed their share of that global cap will pay a small fee.
- A rule to devote 20 per cent of beer shelf space in grocery stores to products from Ontario's small and craft brewers.
- Allowing 9,000 smaller bars and restaurants to buy beer at retail prices instead of paying premium rates.
Although the winning retailers have been selected, the bidding process remains open, the ministry said. If any of the winning retailers fail to get locations authorized, other bidders could move up in the process.