Competition Bureau Urges AG to Allow Wholesale Pricing

Matthew Boswell, Interim Commissioner of Competition at the Competition Bureau wrote an open letter to Attorney General David Eby encouraging him to review wholesale pricing in the assessment of BC’s liquor policy.

Boswell says, “allowing private distributors to supply liquor to bars, restaurants and hotels at proper wholesale prices will encourage greater competition that could lead to more product choice, lower prices and new and innovative products for BC’s consumers.”

The current policy requires businesses in the hospitality sector to purchase their products from government-owned stores. Boswell explains, “This policy restricts competition at the distribution level, because private retailers are unable to compete with government-owned stores. It also restricts competition at the retail level, because bars, restaurants and hotels are unable to set themselves apart from their competitors by offering unique products sold only by private retailers.”

He strongly supports two recommendations made by the Business Technical Advisory Panel:

•Hospitality licensees should not be restricted to buying their liquor products from government retail stores. Such licensees should be able to buy from any licensed source in BC including private retailers.

•Hospitality licensees (restaurants/bars/hotels) should be sold liquor products at a proper wholesale price, as they are in other jurisdictions.

Boswell believes that consumers want more choice and that strong competition may lead to lower prices to consumers.