More flexible negotiations taking into account economic realities would not have prevented prices from being among the lowest in North America


Montreal, May 18th, 2021 - While several consumer products are affected by significant price increases, A3 Quebec members, who represent 97% of the wine and spirits sold in the SAQ network, deplore the fact that the latter has not shown more flexibility in adjusting prices, which was expected by the producers they represent during the last negotiations.

The International Organisation of Vine and Wine confirmed in April that, despite the pandemic, wine consumption was down only 3% in 2020 compared to the previous year and that wine production was slightly below average for a second consecutive year. As a result, producers did not have to manage excess inventory that could have led to price declines in 2021. On the contrary: all stages of the production chain have been more expensive since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to the price adjustment announced by the SAQ today, 1,827 products will see an average increase of 1.21%, 586 will remain unchanged and 700 will be adjusted downward. A3 Quebec estimates that there is an average gap of 2.5% between the announced upward adjustments and those that would have been desired by wine and spirits producers.

The desired increases would have resulted in a marginal increase of a few cents per bottle for the products concerned, but for a producer who sells large volumes to the SAQ, this adjustment would have had a direct impact on his profitability, and sometimes on his survival," explained Roch Bissonnette, president of A3 Quebec. “The adjustments announced by the SAQ today reflect the cost of modest inflation when they should reflect all the economic factors of the market, a market of agricultural products, like any other, let's not forget. "  

While the inflation rate reached 2.2% in March 2021 according to Statistics Canada, consumers paid 11.4% more for eggs and 2.4% more for dairy products, products that are nevertheless framed by supply management. The price of grain, an essential ingredient in the production of many spirits and for which many producers are from Quebec and Canada, has increased by 18% in the last year. Despite this, spirits prices have remained virtually the same.

Producers who ask for price increases are never happy to do so, because they know they risk losing market share to competing products," added Roch Bissonnette. “For wine in particular, since the Quebec market is one of the most important in the world, it is normal that negotiations allow us to obtain good prices for consumers. But when a producer asks for an increase, it's because he really needs it to continue his activities and feed his family. "

Despite the desired adjustments, the products sold by the utility would have remained among the cheapest in North America. For example, according to SAQ data before today's adjustment, 80% of products sold in both Quebec and Ontario were cheaper in Quebec.

To reach Quebec consumers, producers have no choice but to reach an agreement with the SAQ, which controls one of the largest wine and spirits markets in the world, with sales of $3.5 billion in 2019-2020. A3 Quebec recalls that the SAQ unilaterally froze prices for 18 months in 2016-2017 and cancelled one of two price adjustment ranges last year. 

"Producers have been doing their part for years by agreeing to reduce their profit margins, but in our opinion, it would be normal for prices to be similar to those in Ontario now," added Roch Bissonnette. "This is essential if we want to preserve the reputation that Quebec has built with industry players worldwide for decades. "

A3 Quebec's member agencies employ more than 2,000 people who represent wine and spirits producers in Quebec. Over the years, agents have been instrumental in attracting new products to Quebec. 100 years ago, the Commission des liqueurs du Québec offered only 322 products. Today, Quebecers have access to an extremely diverse offering of 15,000 products.

About A3 Quebec
Founded in 1969, A3 Quebec has 92 members, including 72 wine, beer and spirits agencies, which account for more than 97% of sales at the SAQ. Working on behalf of producers, these agencies are responsible for developing the wine, beer and spirits market in Quebec. A3 Quebec organizes annually La Grande Dégustation de Montréal, the largest wine event in Eastern Canada. For more information, visit www.a3quebec.com.


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