Due to a general decline in sales, the Société des alcools du Québec will reduce the number of Quebec products offered in its branches.

Bottles of spirits in a section of the Société des alcools du Québec.

The SAQ will free up space on shelves by reducing the number of Quebec spirits.

Photo: Radio-United States

There will soon be fewer Quebec products in branches of the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ). By reducing supply, the state-owned company hopes to revive its sales, which are in sharp decline.

In the last year, sales of Quebec wines decreased by 5.9%, according to data provided by the SAQ.

The decline is even more marked in spirits. Those stamped Origin Quebectherefore manufactured entirely in the province, are the most affected (-13.3%), while purchases of spirits prepared in Quebec with ingredients from abroad saw a drop of 8.1% compared to the previous financial year.

This decrease in sales is generalized at the SAQ, but is not as visible with other products. In December, the state monopoly announced an overall decline of 0.6%. (New window) of sales for the second quarter of the fiscal year.

Overall, we are seeing a certain slowdown in the popularity of local purchasing here, and combined with a difficult economic context, we are unfortunately seeing declining performance for certain categories of Quebec products.assures Anne-Sophie Desroches, spokesperson for the state company.

Aware of this situation, Quebec winegrowers remain cautious.

Right now, for anything luxurious, people are paying more attention.

A quote from Sébastien Daoust, owner of the Les Bacchantes vineyard

This is worrying, because a drop in sales is not desirable, especially with the increase in production costs, but it is not dramaticnuance Sébastien Daoust, owner of the Les Bacchantes vineyard, in Montérégie.

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Our sales increased significantly during the pandemic. There has been a craze for local products, including Quebec winesspecifies Charles-Henri De Coussergues, co-owner of the Orpailleur vineyard, one of the largest in Quebec.

There was a definite drop, but not dramatic. The COVID years were exceptional.

A quote from Charles-Henri De Coussergues, co-owner of the Orpailleur vineyard

For now, he adds, we still sell more than before COVID.

A winemaker holds a bunch of grapes.

Charles-Henri de Coussergues, co-owner of the Orpailleur vineyard, has noticed a drop in sales, but also a drop in attendance at his vineyard over the last year.

Photo: Radio-United States / Fannie Bussières-McNicoll

Nevertheless, admits Sébastien Daoust, we all have to learn to adjust.

Do we have too varied a product range? We need to review our strategies, he believes. I now prefer to focus on the production of only three products, with an interesting volume, to seek economies of scale.

Exception for ready-to-drink and beers

However, one category is an exception. Ready-to-drink products, ciders and beers produced entirely in Quebec are doing better. Their sales are even increasing by 5.5%. However, the total value of these sales is significantly lower than that of wines and spirits.

Spirits in the sights of the SAQ

Offering fewer different products, but selling more, that’s precisely the SAQ’s idea. Particularly regarding spirits, which have experienced strong growth in recent years.

These products have flooded the tableswhich made the choice rather difficult for customersindicates the spokesperson for the state company, which intends to withdraw eventually 150 to 200 products having sales difficulties.

Too much choice kills choice.

A quote from Anne-Sophie Desroches, spokesperson for the SAQ

I’m not surprised. We must return to a model that is viable for everyone, based in particular on customer demand.assures Joël Pelletier, president of the Union québécoise des microdistilleries (UQMD).

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With the increase in the number of products available, the pie (of sales) is separated into smaller pieceshe summarizes.

We are not sounding the alarm, but we will have to see the products that will be on the shelves.

A quote from Joël Pelletier, president of UQMD

According to the latter, who also manages the St. Laurent distillery in Rimouski, the future choices of the SAQ will be decisive for the industry.

“At the moment, for products made in Quebec, with producers who do fermentation, bottling and marketing, manufacturing costs are higher and this is reflected in the price of the product,” he explains. But we will have to be careful that it is not only Quebec products that are put aside. »

There is no indication that when the economy recovers, these products will not take off againhe believes.

A man in front of a microphone.

The SAQ and its president Jacques Farcy have confirmed that certain bottles will soon experience a price increase, including Quebec products.

Photo: Radio-United States / Guillaume Cyr

Promotions, but no exemption for price increases

The withdrawal of these spirits will free % of shelf space”,”text”:”15% of shelf space”}}”>15% of space in shelves For products that are more sought after by customers, but which they are not always able to find currently in our branch networksays the SAQ, which has just published its future action plan to promote Quebec products.

The state-owned company is counting on an increase in sales of Quebec products of 2% for the year 2024-2025.

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To achieve this, it intends in particular to increase tastings and the number of promotions targeting products Origin Quebec.

Better placement on shelves is also hoped for by winegrowers. If we are not able to reach our customers, it will be difficult, believes Sébastien Daoust. Tastings are relevant for new products. But at some point, our products are known.

Quebec producers will not, however, be able to count on an exemption from the SAQ from the next increase for bottles sold at more than $15, which aims to increase the margin and revenues of the state company.

This increase will affect the entire network, confirms the Quebec monopoly. We must apply the rules in force regarding the increase, in compliance with international trade agreements, which require us to treat all our suppliers on an equal footing, regardless of their origin.says Anne-Sophie Desroches.

With the collaboration of Aude Garachon

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