Cider to be sold in 60 Ontario grocery stores starting today

Cider will hit the shelves today at 60 Ontario grocery stores already licensed to sell beer, sources tell CBC News.

CBC News has also learned province launching new call for more supermarkets to sell beer, wine, cider

CBC News has learned that the 60 Ontario grocery stores currently licensed to sell beer will be allowed to start selling cider today. (Pommies Cider)

Cider will hit the shelves today at 60 Ontario grocery stores already licensed to sell beer, sources tell CBC News. 

It's the latest step in Premier Kathleen Wynne's gradual liberalization of alcohol sales in the province. CBC News has learned Wynne will announce the start of cider sales during a news conference today at a supermarket in Waterloo.

Beer sales began last December at 60 supermarkets scattered across Ontario. These locations will be the first to sell cider, starting today. 

The government promised in February to allow cider sales in grocery stores, but at that time it didn't reveal the date sales could begin. The government has also promised that wine will be sold from the licensed supermarkets starting this fall. 

Sources also say the LCBO will today call for bids from grocery stores for another 70 locations to sell beer, cider and wine. The government's plan is eventually to license as many as 300 such locations, as well as another 150 supermarkets selling just beer and cider and 150 more selling just wine. 

Supermarkets currently selling beer are subject to strict rules about location in the store and who can handle it. Cider will be subject to the same rules. 

Ontario's craft cider makers are pushing to get the level of attention for their product that the craft beer industry is receiving. For those unfamiliar with the issue, the Ontario Craft Cider Association even feels the need on its website to define cider: "a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple or pear juice." 

With an increasing presence at the LCBO, sales of Ontario cider have shot up of late, totaling $17.6 million in the last fiscal year. But that pales in comparison to much smaller British Columbia, where cider sales totaled $74.5 million in 2015, according to the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.