European products now available at Iqaluit's beer and wine store

Wine, beer, coolers and ciders offered under principle to give access to low-alcohol content.

Iqaluit beer and wine store enters final year of 3-year pilot

A menu displaying the selection of beer at Iqaluit's new beer and wine store. The controversial store opened in September of 2017. (Nick Murray/CBC)

Iqaluit's beer and wine store will have more choices going into the third year of a three-year pilot project.

This summer marks the first sealift season after Nunavut politicians lifted a ban on European imports of beer, wine, and spirits last September.

While a few items made it to the store since then, people will now see more more European beer and wine on the list.

Officials with the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission have been making changes to the pilot as they learn more about the operation of the store, explained Dan Young, the commission's director.

For example, in first year of the project people could buy 12 beers a day and two bottles of wine, but in the second year people could swap their beer and wine within the daily quota. Customers could choose to purchase 24 beer without buying any wine, or they could buy four bottles of wine without purchasing any beer.

"We allowed flexibility within the limits to shorten lines, so people didn't have to come back every single day to get the beer or wine that they wanted," Young said, and added the shift caused the overall sales to stay roughly the same, but the number of transactions to decrease.

Dan Young director of Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission. (Angela Hill/CBC News)

"We also started selling coolers and ciders under the same principle that we opened the store with, which is — access to low alcohol content."

From April 2018 to end of March 2019, the beer and wine store sold:

  • 2.25 million bottles or cans of beer
  • 163,000 bottles of wine
  • 30,000 coolers and bottles of cider.

The beer and wine store opened on Sept. 6, 2017, as part of the strategy to reduce the harm of alcohol consumption in the territory by making lower-alcoholic beverages more accessible.

From the 2016-17 year to the 2018-19 year, Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission saw applications for hard liquor permits drop by 49 per cent. 

The commission is looking for new ways to engage with the public, including creating a presence on social media. They plan to use Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share messages ranging from social responsibility to beer and wine store closures.