Monopoly forces ice cider producers into Europe
Canadian ice cider producers, restricted by the state monopoly in Quebec, were out in force at last week’s ProWein looking to build their presence in European markets.
Under the current monopoly regulations of the SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec), the government-run chain of liquor stores, ice cider producers find it hard to get listings due to their size. But are finding more success in international markets.
Patricio Brongo, owner of ice cider producer Domaine Antolino Brongo, said free trade gives them possibilities denied in their own domestic market. “We would have a lot more success in a private market such as Europe,” he said.
“Monopolies are serious obstacles for the growers in this category; since we are small and the margins on our product are low, they are not interested,” he claimed.
There are 35 producers of ice cider in Québec, although only 10 currently export their product themselves. The rest sell their small quantities to larger cider companies. The majority are small and family owned, located primarily in the south-east corner of the Canadian province.
Catherine Hebert, president of Domaine Félibre Vins, Cidres & Liqueurs, said the SAQ had been taking steps over the past five years to improve marketing local products. But there are some ice cider producers who feel the monopoly hinders collaboration between them as competition is so fierce – which makes expanding into new markets overseas, such as Europe, so attractive. “No good entrepreneur puts all his eggs in the same basket,” she said.
It is still early days for many producers in Europe, but ProWein provided some major opportunities for them to establish new relationships. “I found the US, Finland, Germany and Austria in the past, and this year, we got England and Italy,” said Brongo, who was attending the show for the fourth time.