No sales in the SAQ, but… | More white wines, Quebec wines and non-alcoholic products!

Don’t expect displays of wine under $12 to mushroom at SAQ this fall. The crown corporation does not want to change its sales strategy because an inflationary wind is blowing through the province. Quebecers may see their purchasing power under pressure, but they continue to drink and choose carefully what they put in their basket. Overview, in six trends.

Posted at 5:00 am

Stephanie Berube

Stephanie Berube
The press

The small inexpensive wine is losing followers

Every consumer has their own idea of ​​what a “cheap” wine is. The SAQ estimates that category $12 and under fits this description. And contrary to what one might think, cheap wine is becoming less and less popular.

“The $12 and under product line is evolving,” said Josée Dumas, SAQ’s director of supply management and merchandising. The demand has decreased in the last five years: it is no longer there. »

Nevertheless, the SAQ will continue to offer wines in this category.


Josée Dumas, Director of Supply Management and Merchandising at SAQ

There will always be a customer for $12, says Josée Dumas for $15. And there will always be a customer for the $30 or $50.

Josée Dumas, Director of Supply Management and Merchandising at SAQ

According to analyzes by the SAQ, consumers have not lowered the price of their wine bottles for the time being, despite inflation.

The Popularity of the Cellier Room

In fact, Josée Dumas explains that it is not inflation that has affected our buying habits, but COVID-19.

First, our visits to the SAQ at the beginning of the crisis were less frequent and quicker. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we saw consumers entering our stores and heading towards safe values,” explains Josée Dumas. products they knew. They had no intention of coming to our branches, staying there and being advised by our wine consultants. So the Cellier zone was deserted and we saw the sales growth in slightly safer stocks. »

And what is a safe bet in 2022? The products that can be found on the shelves at the entrance to the stores, such as the classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Kim Crawford, are cited by Josée Dumas as an example.

A year into the pandemic, the tide has turned and Quebecers have returned to the Cellier area, which offers more expensive wines.

Consumers wanted to treat themselves, explains Josée Dumas. “If you go to a restaurant, you pay a little more for the bottle of wine,” she says. At the time, there were no chargeable meals in the restaurant, so we saw consumers gravitate toward slightly more prestigious appellations, much more so in the Cellier zone, and we saw this in the increased average price. So far, this trend has not been influenced by inflation.

Other non-alcoholic wines

While the SAQ doesn’t become the SSAQ, it does launch an attack on the increasingly popular non-alcoholic products: it now offers 60 non-alcoholic products, resulting in a 40% increase in sales in one year.

“The soft drinks category is an emerging category at SAQ and we want to develop it further,” confirms Josée Dumas.

“It’s part of our plan to maintain this category, update it and find a place for it in stores,” she explains. It’s currently at the end of the box, so we’re wondering if that’s the right place or if we’re going to position it somewhere else. This category is important to us. It is part of responsible consumption. »

Ready-to-drink is very trendy

Drinking a cocktail without making it? Apparently people like it a lot.

According to Josée Dumas, ready-to-drink, with or without alcohol, was very popular last year when hygiene regulations were relaxed and people met, but many outside, in the courtyard or in the park.

Ready-to-drink sales increased 43.7% in dollars and 40.8% in volume in 12 months from spring 2021 to spring 2022.

There has been a slowdown this year that should be reflected in future analysis.

According to SAQ’s Director of Supply Management and Merchandising, at the beginning of the 2022 season, the weather was not favorable for the consumption of this type of product on the terraces where they could now enjoy their cocktails.

Propagation of Quebec wines

Quebec wine offerings continue to grow at SAQ. “During the pandemic, we saw that shopping locally was a priority for Quebec consumers concerned about boosting the local economy,” explains Josée Dumas.

The average price for a bottle of Quebec wine sold in the SAQ is $17.21.

Local wines now account for 3.9% of SAQ wine sales.

More whites

White wine is becoming increasingly popular: four out of ten bottles of wine sold in the SAQ are white wines.

Red continues to decline, from 55.4% of wine bottles sold in 2021 to 53.4% ​​in 2022. Sales of red wine have been declining in Quebec since 2005, and the trend is global.

The remaining 6% or so is rosé wine – for the curious, as orange wine is not officially a wine category, its sales are counted with white as it is made from white grapes.

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