In accordance with the Federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, all alcoholic beverages being imported into any Canadian province must be consigned to the appropriate provincial government agency. In the province of Ontario, this is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).
The LCBO is a corporation owned by the provincial Crown in Ontario, Canada. It was established by the Lieutenant Governor, William Donald Ross, in 1927 under the advice of the then premier, Howard Fergusen, in order to legislate the sale of liquor, beet, and win in a chain of retail locations. LCBO stores are typically the only stores that are licensed to sell hard liquor in the province. The LCBO is one of the largest purchasers of alcoholic beverage products in the entire world.
Unlike hard liquor, beer can be sold by others, namely Brewers Retail Inc., which operates under the title, "The Beer Store." Wine is sold by a number of stores operated by various local wineries, and are licensed to vend their own products. Despite this, the LCBO continues to be the largest wine retailer in the province.
Apart from the original sales of these products, licensed restaurants and bars can resell alcoholic beverages, but they cannot be legally removed or consumed off of the premise's from which they were purchased. Bars and restaurants must buy the products directly from either the LCBO, The Beer Store, or from one of the Ontario wineries or breweries. All of these products are regulated to some extent by the LCBO.
There are many sectors in which alcoholic beverages are sold within the current Ontario market, with each having its own set of risks. Determining which sector to focus on is dependant on a supplier's personal product portfolio.
- Focuses on premium wines, although some releases have been as low as $12 due to the recession.
- Focuses on products associated with accolades, such as Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, and Robert Parker.
- Orders generally range from 200 to 500 cases; orders are even higher (800 - 1200 cases, if the product is associated with a key accolade).
- Orders generally on a one-time basis, but can become repeated if the product shows a high degree of success.
LCBO General List / Regular Sector.
- Focuses on regular products, although variety is increasing. This accounts for 90% of the LCBO's total revenue.
LCBO Private Ordering.
- Is quite small, but focuses on products that cannot normally be purchased at the LCBO's outlets.
- The published Freight Rates can be obtained from the LCBO before an order is placed.