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B.C beer prices rise, despite liquor law changes, says NDP

06/04/2015 05:33 EDT | Updated 06/04/2016 05:59 EDT
Beer prices have gone up and will continue to increase, despite changes to the province's liquor distribution system, says the NDP. 

"Here we are after two years of good news announcements, the bad news has come home and beer prices are going up," said B.C. NDP leader John Horgan.

According to the NDP, 90 per cent of beers at government liquor stores have increased in price since the province updated its wholesale distribution system on April 1.

While most beers have only increased by one and five per cent, some have increased by 10 per cent or more. 

The only beers to moderately decrease in price, says the NDP, are mostly from outside B.C.

Lower price promises 'a hoax,' says NDP

Horgan says the Liberal government's promises of lower prices because of the new system have been "a hoax."

"It's a tax grab, plain and simple, and it's going to be on the backs of consumers," said Horgan.

David Eby, the NDP critic for liquor policy, said beer prices will only continue to increase. 

He says government retail stores will have to increase prices to cover their overhead costs — prompting private liquor stores to take advantage.

"The effect in the private stores wil be that they will increase prices as well," said Eby.

Ari Dressler, the president for the beer advocacy group CAMRA BC, says craft beer producers are concerned that consumers will shift away from micro brews and buy cheaper, out-of-province beers instead.

"It's really a detriment for beer drinkers, aficionados, but also the larger vibrant beer community that we've seen grow here in B.C.," said Dressler.

Micro brews not suffering, says ministry

In a written statement, the B.C. Ministry of Justice said price changes are not unusual at the government liquor stores.

"Like any retailer, BC Liquor Stores review prices on an ongoing basis to ensure products are priced according to market demand, profitability, changes in supplier prices, etc.

"In any given month, some prices go up and some go down," said the ministry's statement. 

The statement also said promotional activities like displays and in-store signage have helped B.C. craft beer sales. 

"In the past two months alone, craft beer sales have grown by approximately 40 per cent in BC Liquor Stores," it said.

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