Canada's Distillery Industry

The Canadian distillery products industry, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 31214, comprises establishments that are primarily engaged in distilling liquor (except brandy), blending liquor, or blending and mixing liquor and other ingredients.

The industry also includes establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing ethyl alcohol, whether or not the alcohol is used to make potable spirits. Products of NAICS 31214 include beverage spirits (except brandy), alcoholic eggnog, potable ethyl alcohol, alcoholic mixed drinks, and whisky manufacturing.

Significance

The distilled spirits industry has a long history in Canada. The first distillery in Canada was established in 1769 in Quebec City. Today’s distilling industry produces a variety of spirits (e.g. whisky, rum, vodka, gin, liqueurs, spirit coolers, and basic ethyl alcohol) but Canada's reputation, domestically and internationally, is largely based on the production of Canadian whisky.

Structure

In 2012, 38 establishments were operating in Canada with the majority in Ontario (10), British Columbia (9) and Quebec (8). The industry generated revenues of $744 million and employed 1,280 people. Sales of spirits in Canada totalled 222 million litres in 2013, with 148 million litres representing Canadian spirits. Canadian production of distilled spirits is highly concentrated among a few firms and the bulk of domestic spirits production in Canada is foreign-owned. The industry is a net importer of spirits, with imports totalling $914.2 million in 2014 while exports amounted to $602.9 million in the same year. The United States accounts for 90% of exports; the majority of imports come from the United States (37%), followed by the United Kingdom (20%), Ireland, France, and Mexico.

Canadian distilling industry imports, exports and sales of goods manufactured (2012)
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The following figures are in millions of Canadian dollars.

Canadian distilling industry imports, exports and sales of goods manufactured (2012)
Imports 874.40
Exports 523.10
Domestic shipments 221.10
Canadian market (imports and domestic shipments) 1,095.50
Sales of goods manufactured (exports and domestic shipments) 744.20

Source: Statistics Canada

Performance

Between 2004 and 2012, sales of goods manufactured by the Canadian distilling industry decreased 2.4% from $762.3 million to $744.2 million. Imports of spirits had an average annual growth rate of 6.6% during the same period while exports shrank at an average annual rate of 1.2% before rising again in 2013. As a result, imports represent a greater proportion of the domestic market, increasing to 80% in 2012 compared to 74% in 2004. Between 2004 and 2012, direct employment declined from 1,969 employees to 1,280. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of smaller distilling companies that specialize in supplying niche market products, and the emergence of a number of artisan distilleries located throughout Canada that make small batches of spirits such as vodka, gin, brandy liqueur and Canadian Whisky.

Canadian distilling industry sales of goods manufactured and employment (2004 -2012)
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Canadian distilling industry sales of goods manufactured and employment (2004 -2012)
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Sales of goods manufactured (in millions of Canadian dollars) 762.29 782.95 744.28 837.40 743.95 693.82 722.05 729.81 744.22
Employment (number of people) 1,969 1,966 1,773 1,671 1,391 1,213 1,259 1,264 1,280

Source: Statistics Canada

Note: The manufacturing statistics cited in this profile are taken from Statistics Canada’s Annual Survey of Manufactures and Logging, which lags behind the current date by at least 2 years.

Distillery, 2004-2013

Table showing principal statistics in the canadian distillery industry for 2004-2012
Principal statistics [a] 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2012/11 AAG [b]
2007-12
Employment total (number of employees) 1,969 1,966 1,773 1,671 1,391 1,213 1,259 1,264 1,280 1.3%
Employment – production (number of employees) 1,402 1,427 1,256 1,148 981 844 830 806 785 −2.6%
Employment - administration (number of employees) 567 539 517 523 410 369 429 458 495 8.1%
GDP (millions of chained 2002$) 830.5 852.4 852.0 1,001.2 912.0 879.9 899.9 906.4 954.4 5.3%
Total revenue (millions $) 410 376 396 451 354 385 420 355 413 16.3%
Revenue from goods manufactured (millions $) 762.3 783.0 744.3 837.4 744.0 693.8 722.1 729.8 744.2 2.0%
Value-added, goods manufactured (millions $) 453.1 469.8 368.2 444.2 344.2 343.3 273.9 269.9 298.4 10.6%
Value-added/worker, goods manufactured (millions $) 0.32 0.33 0.29 0.39 0.35 0.41 0.33 0.33 0.38
Value-added as % of revenue from goods manufactured 59.4% 60.0% 49.5% 53.0% 46.3% 49.5% 37.9% 37.0% 40.1%
Domestic market (millions $) 710.5 887.6 899.5 1064.4 1117.9 1011.5 1130.0 1103.5 1095.5 −0.7% 0.6%
Domestic penetration 26.3% 38.8% 33.5% 37.4% 31.2% 28.1% 29.5% 24.4% 20.2%

Note:

  • [a] Statistics Canada, Annual survey of manufactures and logging (ASML) (note there is at least a 2 year lag in ASML figures)
  • [b] Average annual growth rate
Table showing global trade statistics in the canadian distillery industry for 2004-2013
Global trade statistics [a] 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2013/12 AAG [b]
2008-13
Exports (millions $) 575.7 438.2 443.4 439.5 395.4 409.3 388.5 460.8 523.1 622.6 19.0% 9.5%
Exports as % of revenue from goods manufactured 75.5% 56.0% 59.6% 52.5% 53.2% 59.0% 53.8% 63.1% 70.3%
Imports (millions $) 523.9 542.9 598.6 666.5 769.3 727.0 796.5 834.4 874.4 884.6 1.2% 2.8%
Imports as % of domestic market 73.7% 61.2% 66.5% 62.6% 68.8% 71.9% 70.5% 75.6% 79.8%
Balance of trade (millions $) 51.8 −104.7 −155.2 −227.0 −373.9 −317.7 −408.0 −373.6 −351.3 −262.1

Note:

  • [a] Industry Canada trade data online (Statistics Canada data)
  • [b] Average annual growth rate
Table showing trade statistics with the United States in the canadian distillery industry for 2004-2013
Trade statistics with the United States [a] 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2013/12 AAG [b]
2008-13
Exports (millions $) 497.3 357.8 358.0 368.5 331.1 348.2 347.1 386.6 437.2 547.1 25.2% 10.6%
Imports (millions $) 136.5 138.3 151.5 184.2 302.5 292.6 326.9 332.1 344.0 337.9 −1.8% 2.2%
Balance of trade (millions $) 360.8 219.5 206.4 184.3 28.5 55.6 20.2 54.5 93.2 209.3

Note:

  • [a] Industry Canada trade data online (Statistics Canada data)
  • [b] Average annual growth rate

Contact us

For more information about Canada's food industry, read Significance of the Food and Beverage Processing Industry in Canada or contact the Sector Development and Analysis Directorate at sdad-ddas@agr.gc.ca.

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