B.C. to review wholesale-liquor distribution

Review follows a more comprehensive earlier review that recommended changes

Restaurant owners must pay full retail price for alcoholic beverages and they are forced to buy that alcohol from government-run stores | Chung Chow

The B.C. government on December 11 announced that it will hire an as-yet unnamed person to conduct an independent review of wholesale liquor distribution in the province.

The review follows the government commissioning a larger-scale review of liquor policy in November 2017. That broader review involved liquor-policy lawyer Mark Hicken heading what was named the Business Technical Advisory Panel (Liquor Policy) and releasing a report in April to government that suggested 23 recommendations.

The B.C. government then released that report to the public in July.

One of the Hicken-led panel’s recommendations was that restaurants should be able to buy alcohol at a wholesale price as well as from private stores. Restaurants currently have to pay the full retail price that the public pays, but unlike the public, restaurant owners must buy alcoholic beverages from the B.C. government’s stores, and not private retailers.

Attorney General David Eby told Business in Vancouver in July that he may make the change to allow restaurant owners to pay a slight premium of about 5% on top of the wholesale price for alcoholic beverages that government charges retailers.

“Government will engage an outside consultant to conduct the review, which will begin in the new year, once the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) has substantially transitioned to the new Delta distribution centre,” the government said in a release.

“The review will examine current practices, seek input from wholesale customers and recommend any improvements to services that are needed.”

Click here to see some of the other recommendations that the Business Technical Advisory Panel (Liquor Policy) recommended.