Ontario wines fight for market share at home
Using two glasses of wine to show the market share ratio of Ontario wines to imported wines sold in this province, Grape Growers of Ontario chairman Bill George said the goal is to improve the ratio to 50/50 by 2020. Dan Dakin, Standard Staff
It may be their home turf, but selling wine in Ontario is one of the biggest challenges facing Niagara wineries. And consumers have no idea.
“Not at all,” said Bill George, the chairman of the Grape Growers of Ontario, when asked if he believed wine buyers realized how little market share Ontario-made wines hold. “If you look at any other wine producing region, they have market dominance in their own region. France, California, in all those areas it's upwards of 70 or 80%. We need to be loyal Ontarians like those regions.”
Increasing the market share of Ontario-made wine in this province is a major hurdle facing the industry, George said Wednesday at the Grape Growers of Ontario media day held at Niagara College.
Ontario's grape growers are coming off of a record-setting year in 2012 with 66,000 tonnes of grapes sold to Ontario wineries for $88.6 million.
But the wine market in Ontario is still held by imported brands, which maintain a 62% market share.
The GGO is launching a campaign to change that to a 50/50 ratio by 2020.
“It's going to be difficult, but it's realistic from the perspective of how many wines aren't getting to the shelves that could be,” said Debbie Zimmerman, the CEO of the GGO.
She said there were 3,000 Ontario wines available in 2012, but only 586 were available in the LCBO stores. “We're saying we want to partner with the government to find ways to (improve) this.”
There's more pressure on the industry to improve the market share this year because government regulations are changing to allow international blend wines to be made with 25% Ontario grapes starting in 2014 – down from its current 30% requirement.
“That's why we're raising those alarm bells now,” Zimmerman said. “And the government controls the distribution channels, so why not.”
Asked about increasing the Ontario's grape industry business by exporting more wine, Wine Council of Ontario vice chairman Allan Schmidt said the industry needs to improve things at home first.
“We have to be strong here. We have to own this market,” said Schmidt, the president of Vineland Estates Winery. “Australia didn't start selling wine here until it had a 95% market share (at home.)”
Wine sold in Ontario
61.7% - imported from outside Canada
9.5% - VQA wine (100% Ontario grapes)
28.8% - International Canadian Blends
Grapes produced in Ontario for wine products (in tonnes)
2008 – 60,780
2009 – 47,595
2010 – 53,747
2011 – 64,495
2012 – 66,014
Did you realize Ontario wines only hold a 38.3% market share in Ontario?