February 2010

Sake Reality - Sake Sales in B.C. Canada

Posted by Beau Timken in 2010, February, Newsletter
Canadian Flag I like to stay in touch with importers from all over the world to get a sense of what others are doing and what hurdles they must jump through in their particular parts of the world. I often complain that we have it bad in the US, as per importing rules and regulations and of course taxation. (Oh let's not forget the hell known as inter-state shipment of alcohol!) But when I read what my friends in Canada go through I thank my - our - lucky stars.

Ken Watai is the president of Jizake Japan North America - an importing company, and in my New Year's Hello to Ken, I asked how things were. (We sell one of his brews at True Sake - the famous Yuu- ga which I really like for the price and quality.) First the good news - he said sales were up last year even though volume was down, but then he scared the crap out of me with the following paragraph:

Here in BC, the market is absolutely too small. I think the sake market in California is 20 times larger than British Columbia (BC, Canada) market. In addition to this, the provincial government is the only organization which can import alcoholic beverages in Canada. I must sell all my sake to BC Government prior to the importation (CIF). When I sell my sake to the government, they add 117% as handling and marketing charges. In addition to this, another 10% Provincial Social Tax and 5% Good and Service Federal Tax are added at the sales counter. BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BC Provincial Government) made $891 million dollars Profit (about 850 million US dollar) last year out of revenue of $2.8 billion. Population in BC? Only 4 million people. So, the wine price in BC is 40-50% higher than California. Good thing is not too much competition here and absolutely no chance that the buyer gets bankruptcy. In any event here in BC it's not a good place for wine/sake business.

Man that is rough. So Ken, I will ask all of our Canadian readers to buy more sake, and I will also tell the many Canadian officials who visit and call on True Sake to "BACK OFF" and let you guys make a better market for the good sake folks of Canada.

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