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No love for agave: LCBO finds Ottawa only Ontario region not jumping on tequila trend

A stock photo showing a margarita. (Pexels/Los Muertos Crew) A stock photo showing a margarita. (Pexels/Los Muertos Crew)
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A new report by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has found Ottawa is the only region in the province where tequila has not cracked the top spot for alcohol sales growth this year.

On Wednesday, the LCBO released its annual What Ontarians Were Drinking report, detailing consumer alcohol purchase trends in Ontario for 2023.

In a regional breakdown of the top growth alcohol categories, tequila topped the list for five of the six regions in Ontario identified in the report. The report pertains to alcohol sales made between Nov. 6 2022 and Nov. 4 2023.

But it appears the Ottawa region is paving its own way as the provincial liquor seller found residents were sticking to beer and wine.

New Zealand white wines topped the list in the growth product category in the city, with a 13 per cent increase in sales this year compared to 2022.

Coolers and mainstream beer were close behind with an 11 per cent and 10 per cent increase, respectively.

The North, East, West, Greater Toronto Area and South Western regions identified by the LCBO each had tequila topping the list. New Zealand whites, beer and coolers also showed increases in popularity across all regions year-over-year.

The west region, made up of the west of Toronto, the Peel region and Hamilton, saw tequila sales jump the highest from 2022, with an 18 per cent increase.

What Ontarians were drinking in 2023 across regions. (LCBO/Handout)The LCBO found that Ontarians made more mindful purchasing decisions that saw their booze budgets go further.

"As Ontarians looked to reduce their spending, there was a clear shift in their drinking choices," said Abhay Garg, vice president of LCBO merchandising in a news release.

"We pride ourselves on having a product selection that caters to every taste and budget, so it remains easy to find the perfect choice."

The LCBO's report said the 'tequila frenzy' from last year continued in 2023, but at a slower rate than the previous year – overall there has been 44 per cent growth in the last two years.

Catching customers’ interest were brands with celebrity backing, innovative finishes, eye-catching packaging, and '100 per cent agave.'

Ready-to-drink products, which include pre-mixed cocktails and coolers, continued to grow in popularity (+10 per cent), with seltzers contributing the largest share of sales once again.

Canned cocktails saw a remarkable increase of 40 per cent over last year, supported by new brands and a more extensive selection.

In the beer category, the value-based trend continued with the mainstream Canadian beer outpacing demand for premium and craft beer, but IPAs also remained one of the most popular choices.

The report also found light, low alcohol and dealcoholized wine options continued to be a popular choice as more Ontarians sought to moderate their alcohol consumption.

In fact, the growth of lighter wine options and lower sugar wines outpaced wines with higher alcohol levels, with a 2 per cent and 7 per cent increase, respectively.

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