New Democrats propose changes to promote B.C.’s artisan distillery industry
VANCOUVER – New Democrats are proposing the same measures used to promote the wine sector be extended to grow B.C.'s burgeoning artisan distillery industry.
“There is a viable business case that the same provisions that past governments put in place to build the wine industry can help artisan distilleries flourish, boosting agriculture, tourism and Liquor Distribution Branch sales in the process. These boutique spirits are already earning B.C. international acclaim and awards, and represent a new opportunity in value-added manufacturing for B.C.," said New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix.
New Democrats recommend extending the following measures to B.C. artisan distillers:
- Direct sales to restaurants and licensees, in addition to sales through the Liquor Distribution Branch;
- On-site lounges and event areas;
- Adjusting the Liquor Distribution Branch mark up to 129 per cent from 170, and exempting storefront sales from commission.
A specialized manufacturing agreement would extend these provisions to producers that fit the “craft artisan distillery” designation. This classification entails producing less than 50,000 litres annually in an artisan pot still, using at least 50 per cent local agriculture products.
New Democrat agriculture critic Lana Popham elaborated more on how these measures would benefit B.C. agriculture, tourism and value added manufacturing.
“Growth in craft distilling will create a new secondary market for B.C. farmers and fruit growers. This is especially important, given the struggles the latter have faced in recent years,” said Popham.
“Distillers in the Interior use apples, cherries and other berries for their eaux de voie, liqueurs and absinthe. These crops might otherwise go to waste.
“Furthermore, interest in spirits is growing - Washington State and Oregon, regions that compete with B.C. for culinary tourism and agritourism, are already taking advantage of the growing appeal of artisan distilleries,” noted Popham.
The revenue implications for the Liquor Distribution Branch would be negligible in the short term, and more than offset by gains in agriculture, tourism and higher sales over the mid and long term.
“Last year, local boutique distillers produced less than one fifth of one percent of the volume of spirits consumed in B.C. – fewer than 100,000 bottles of the 50,000,000 bottles of spirits. The B.C. Chamber of Commerce, points out that thanks to these same measures, B.C. wines today have a dominant presence In Liquor Distribution Branch stores,” noted Popham.