Posted at 6:00 am
Goodfood customers ordering packed lunches, groceries or ready meals can add a bottle of beer or wine. The Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux just gave the company permission to sell alcohol in Quebec, even if the suppliers aren’t necessarily their employees, provided they verify the identity of the recipient to ensure they’re of legal age is.
This decision was expected from Goodfood, which has seen better days. The company is losing customers and its results for the spring quarter show a 38% drop in sales in one year.
Goodfood had announced its intention to add alcohol to its offering in early 2021, hoping its project would come to fruition later that year. It will have taken longer than expected because the Régie des alcools, des course et des jeux (RACJ) summoned the company to a hearing, even though it has a food license.
Goodfood customers do not have to order food to go with their drink like grocers with a grocery license and unlike the restaurant license.
All customers should have access to the wine list from August 23. It includes Quebec wines, including those from Léon Courville, microbrewery beers, and products from Labatt, Sleeman, and Molson. The delivery of alcohol with or without food is offered with the “30 minutes” service introduced earlier this year, which ensures that the customer receives his order no later than half an hour after ordering.
New business model
It is the virtual aspect of commerce that needs further study, according to RAJC, that draws particular attention to requests from new business models. To sell alcohol in Quebec, a store must use 51% of its physical space for food. Regular grocery and convenience stores can already sell and deliver alcohol.
In the case of virtual companies, the RACJ must ensure that the ratio is maintained in the applicant’s offer. This also applies to a Metro warehouse that does not sell in a physical space, but only through online orders. The RACJ wanted to present this new model to the managers – this virtual metro also received a positive opinion and will be able to deliver alcohol with or without other orders.
The vice president of public affairs for the Quebec Food Retailers Association, Stéphane Lacasse, is concerned about the potential lack of scrutiny caused by third-party supply of alcohol bottles. For example, if you add a bottle of cider to your groceries for the week, delivery people from major grocery chains will ensure the recipient’s identity is verified.
“We make sure that proof of age is requested,” says Stéphane Lacasse, who believes the connection is weaker when the delivery is entrusted to a company other than the seller.
How does the Régie ensure that the law is applied?
Stéphane Lacasse, Vice President for Public Affairs of the Quebec Food Retailers Association
Attorney Joyce Tremblay, spokeswoman for the RACJ, acknowledges that the Régie has only about ten inspectors for the entire territory of Quebec and that its mandate is broad. However, complaints of this type of fault are being processed and the Régie is working with local police forces, she said.
On Goodfood’s part, we assure that “Suppliers are required to verify the identity of the person receiving the package at the door”.
These recent decisions set no precedent: Uber Eats suppliers, an intermediary between the restaurant and the customer, can also deliver alcohol. Les Fermes Lufa, which grows vegetables on rooftops in Montreal and Laval, also sells all types of groceries, including alcohol. They use external delivery companies to distribute their shopping baskets.