Imported and packaged beer sales growing in Canada’s On Premise

Sales of imported and packaged beer are rising in Canada’s On Premise—but the craft and draft categories have lost share in the last 12 months.
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Those are among a wealth of insights from CGA by NIQ’s exclusive On Premise Measurement (OPM) solution, which provides beverage suppliers and manufacturers with outstanding insights into beer sales trends. The new research marks CGA by NIQ’s first ever complete read of beer and spirits sales in Canada’s On Premise.


The OPM service reveals total beer volumes in Canada in the last 12-month period were down by 1.5% year-on-year. The 0.5% drop in volumes through eating outlets was smaller than a 5.4% fall in drinking outlets like neighbourhood and sports bars—the result of a contraction in drinking outlet numbers and an increase in eating venues. The contrasting numbers also reflect the growing popularity of beer in casual dining and fine dining restaurants.


CGA’s powerful OPM data is complemented by the On Premise User Survey (OPUS), which reveals the occasions for which drinkers choose beer. More than a third (38%) of occasions are food-led and 24% are drink-led, while 39% are led by both food and drink.


Of the main beer categories with the OPM service, imports recorded the strongest volume growth at 3.2%, while domestic brands rose 2.6%. However, craft beers saw a significant drop in popularity, with sales by volume down by 9.6% year-on-year. Among smaller segments of the market, there was growth for below-premium beers and hard seltzers but a drop in cider volumes.


A fall in draft volumes has led to the overall decline in the category, CGA’s data reveals. Draft lost 2.6% of sales in the last year, while packaged volumes achieved slight growth of 1.3%. There were contrasting fortunes in the draft segment between import beers, where volumes rose 3.1%, and the craft category, where they dropped 11.4%.


OPUS meanwhile confirms the high value of beer drinkers to Canada’s On Premise. They visit the On Premise significantly more often than other consumers and spend an average of $163 per month there—$19 more than the average of $144 among all consumers.


Mitch Stefani, CGA by NIQ’s client solutions director – Americas, said: “It’s clear that beer consumers are highly engaged with On Premise venues and brands, and they’re willing to spend good money on the right offer. Despite a slight contraction in volumes, this remains a valuable and dynamic category. However, there have been some significant movements within this segment lately, with drinking outlets shrinking and competitive challenges in occasions and consumers’ style and serve preferences. It’s particularly interesting to see the shifts from craft to imported brands and from draft to packaged serves.”


Further exclusive analysis of CGA’s OPM data in Canada indicates shifting demand for beer by territory. For example, total beer volumes rose 2.6% and 1.3% in Ontario and Alberta respectively, but fell by 7.7% and 1.6% in British Columbia and Quebec.


Mitch Stefani said: “In such a competitive market where spending continues to be under pressure, it’s vital to invest in sales and consumer intelligence to develop a deep understanding of what beer drinkers want—not just across Canada but from region to region and channel to channel. CGA’s fusion of sales measurement and consumer knowledge can give brands an all-important head start in the race for category share.”


To discover more about CGA by NIQ’s capabilities in analysis and strategy planning In beer and many other categories in Canada’s On Premise, contact Mitch Stefani at or visit

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