Update: Joel Levesque of Moosehead has left a wonderful response to this post. Please have a look. He makes good points which I do not necessarily agree with entirely but his input is certainly indicative of an interested and engaged brewery.
I find this article in the Times Transcript from Canada's eastern province of New Brunswick quite astonishing in its honest if misplaced defense of the system still found in some provinces - that of the government run monopoly or "government store"...sometimes even called "the power house" in Lunenburg Co., NS. First, the author clearly describes the pricing situation in NB:
For example, a 12-pack of 341-millilitre bottles of Canadian-made beer sells for about $20.50 at New Brunswick Liquor stores. That's about $1.70 per bottle. That price is about the same in Ontario, but about a dollar less in Nova Scotia. But in Quebec, a 12-pack of bottles listed on an online flyer for a large grocery store chain is priced at $12.99. Take a drive across the southern border to Maine and the price is even less. An online flyer for the Hannaford grocery store in the Bangor Mall yesterday listed the sale price for a 12-pack of Molson Canadian in 12-ounce bottles as $8.99, or 75 cents a bottle. And if you'd rather have a 30-pack of Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Lite or Labatt Lite in 12-ounce cans, the sale price is $15.99, or 53 cents a can.
Fine. You might think where we might be going with all this if, you know, you considered the marketplace a good thing. If, you know, you think consumers having variety and fair pricing is a good thing. But that is not where we are going. Nope. Because the story follows up with some interesting observations from Joel Levesque, described as a spokesman for Moosehead Breweries:
...He explained that Moosehead likes the arrangement where it makes the beer and sells it to the liquor corporation, which then takes care of the distribution and sales. In other markets, the brewery would have to look after its own distribution to all the little stores, which would raise the price of production... "For us, the most efficient and best-run systems are the ones in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island." Levesque said the U.S. market is very complex because it involves importers, wholesalers and retailers who all want a piece of the action which leaves only a few pennies for the brewer.
Wow!¹ So, high price, low effort and limited competition. Is that really the goal of the Canadian brewer? Nice to see, however, that the people of New Brunswick are voting with their feet and finding the prices and selection they prefer elsewhere to the tune of an alleged 12 million dollar short fall. Nice to see they have figured out what's going on. Nice, too, that the Times Transcript presents the information fulsomely and letting the facts speak for themselves.
¹[Ed.: That's almost as good as the time I asked a government store official why PEI then had no "don't drink and drive" public service advertising only to be told that it would eat in on profits.]