03/26/2012 09:03 EDT | Updated 05/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada Alcohol Sales: 2010-2011 Sales Up, Beer Still Canadians' Favourite

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says beer and liquor stores sold $20.3 billion worth of alcoholic beverages in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, up two per cent from the previous year.

And the agency says beer remains the favourite tipple for Canadians, although per-capita sales of 80.3 litres per person in 2011 were down from 85.6 litres in 2000.

The growth in alcohol sales reflected a number of factors, including increased sales of imported wine and spirits as well as an overall increase of 0.4 per cent in the prices of spirits, wine and beer.

In terms of litres of absolute alcohol, the volume of sales decreased 0.5 per cent to 228.4 million litres.

Although beer remained the drink of choice, by both volume and dollar value, its dominance continued to decline as consumers turned more to wine.

In 2000, beer had a market share of 52 per cent by dollar value, while wine had 23 per cent.. By 2011, the market share for beer had slipped to 45 per cent, while wine accounted for 30 per cent.

The market share of spirits declined marginally by 1.0 per cent over the same period.

Provincial and territories liquor agencies took in $5.9 billion in net income from sales of alcohol and revenue from liquor licences and permits, a 5.6 per cent increase from a year earlier.

Alberta recorded a 4.5 per cent drop in net income, while all the other provinces and territories reported increases.

Canadians bought $9.1 billion worth of beer in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, down 0.4 per cent from the previous year.

The volume of imported beer sold was down 2.4 per cent to 321 million litres in 2011 from 2010.

Wine sales hit $6.1 billion during the year, up 5.0 per cent.

Sales of imported wine rose 4.8 per cent, while sales of domestic wine rose only 0.5 per cent.

Sales of spirits totalled $5.1 billion, up 2.9 per cent. The rise was mainly due to higher sales of vodka, rum and whiskies.