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Canadian Craft Beer: Step-by-Step Guide for Exporting

Disclaimer: This information is to be considered solely as a guide and should not be quoted as, or considered to be, a legal authority. It may become obsolete in whole or in part at any time without notice.  Readers should take note that the Government of Canada does not guarantee the accuracy of any of the information contained in this report, nor does it endorse the organizations listed herein.

Table of contents

Introduction

There are now over 1,100 breweries in Canada.  As the craft brewing industry in Canada has grown, so has the global recognition of Canadian beer.  Canada has a reputation for some of the best barley in the world, clean air and fresh water, friendly business environment and political stability. There has never been a better time to export your beer.

In addition, Canada is the only G7 nation with free trade access to the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region because of the following trade agreements:

  • Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
  • Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)
  • Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
  • Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA)

For many businesses, exporting can be daunting. To determine your export readiness and potential be sure to check out the Trade Commissioner Service resources. This guide will also help to make the export process less complicated by providing export-ready breweries with practical information on:

  • export requirements
  • preparing for export
  • market entry strategies
  • specific export markets that present the best opportunities.

A variety of resources available to assist with export is provided in this guide.  With constantly changing regulations, be sure to use these resources for the most up-to-date information.  Moreover, your first stop should be the Trade Commissioner Service Regional Office network in Canada.

Cheers!

Canadian craft beer industry

As of January 2021, there are over 1,100 breweries spread across every province and territory of Canada.  About half of these breweries are less than five years old.

This new brewing capacity has positively positioned Canadian craft breweries for export markets which have to date largely been ignored by breweries focused on local growth.  As local markets move closer to saturation, Canada's craft breweries are seeking growth in international export markets.

Thankfully, Canada produces some of the finest raw ingredients used in beer. Canada also has internationally respected graduates from brewing programs at Niagara College, Olds College and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.  Indeed, Canada is even at the forefront of craft beer packaging. Calgary's Cask Global Canning Solutions invented the ubiquitous inline craft beer canning line in Canada.

Canadian barley is a coveted beer ingredient around the world. Sixty-five percent of malted barley grown in Canada is exported abroad. This represents $268 million and accounting for nearly 10% of global malt exports. The three most common barley varieties used in beer in North America were bred in Canada. They are CDC Copeland, AAC Synergy and AC Metcalfe. New barley varieties specifically bred for craft brewers are emerging from Canada's public breeding programs, including CDC Bow, AAC Connect and CDC Fraser. This is thanks to the work of a network of organizations including:

  • Agriculture Agri-Food Canada
  • the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan
  • the Canadian Barley Research Coalition
  • the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre
  • the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute

New, small craft maltsters are now even improving upon the global reputation of Canadian malted barley.

Canada is also now breeding new varieties of hops. While hops from Manitoba are the pedigree of many old varieties, Lumberjack and Sasquatch, are the first hops bred and patented in Canada. At the same time, hops farmers are also rediscovering old Canadian varieties such as Wild Turkey.

Canadian breweries are now gaining an international reputation for the quality of their beer and their innovation. They are armed with the best ingredients, the best people and the best packaging. They are winning medals at some of the world's largest competitions for beers in classic styles. They are also creating new flavour combination sought by beer lovers from around the world.

All of these elements help to elevate Canada’s craft beer reputation globally.

Preparing for export

Canada Revenue Agency: business number and export account

The first step in preparing for export is to register for an import-export program account with CRA. Your business is required to have a CRA-registered export number for export purposes. This number, referred to as the RM number, is used to process customs documents. To avoid delays in releasing your goods at the border you must open your program account before you plan to export goods.

The CRA does not list the export account in the My Business Account web application, so it will not appear when logged in - only the Corporate Income Tax & GST business accounts will appear. Check with your accounting department if you are unsure if your business has an RM number.

For exports, CRA’s scope is limited to managing the registration of the export business. The company should register for an export number if it has not already done so.

The RM number is usually 0001. If your company has more than one import-export number attached to your business number, your export number may come up as RM0001 or RM0002, etc. (Example: BN 123456789 RM0001).

When applying for an RM number, the business number must match the address under which your company registered the business. Some companies have several locations, so it is important to use the business number that matches the registration.

When you register for a business number, include all your business's names that may appear on customs release forms and documents, such as invoices. If the name on the customs release document is different from the name CRA has on file, your goods may be held up at the border.

To register for an import-export program account (RM), go to How to register for a business number or Canada Revenue Agency program accounts.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency: Safe Food for Canadians Regulations licensing

Registration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and acquiring a license under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) is the second step in preparing for export.

A SFCR License/MyCFIA account is required for exporters of alcoholic beverages if an export certificate is required from CFIA (Certificate of Free Sale). If the importing country requires a certificate of free sale (COFS), your business must apply for an SFCR License.

The CFIA issues SFCR licenses and export permissions in the form of a COFS. The COFS is an important document required for exporting and must be issued before the product leaves Canada.

Registering a My CFIA account online

Everyone who will be using My CFIA must create a Contact Profile. A Contact Profile identifies each user in the system and allows others share access to their Party Profile.
To request services on behalf of a business, you must proceed with the following:

  • go to the sign in page
  • choose a secure sign-in method (sign-in partner or GCKey)
    • It is advised to use the GCKey option. Registration of GCKey takes a minute to set up, but the process is straightforward. Using GCKey, you will not have to pull out your bankcard when you need to sign in.
  • create a contact profile by providing your name and company email

Once you have completed these steps, you will be ready to start using My CFIA for personal use. Next, you must register for business use.

Signing up for business use

Once you have created a Contact Profile, create a Party Profile that you can use to request services on behalf of your business. Before you sign up to use My CFIA for your business, you need to have some information and documentation available. You will also need to make some decisions about how you want to set up your profile.

You will need the following documents on hand to make a quick and easy application:

  1. Business Number
  2. Legal Business Name
  3. Supporting Documents:
    1. Proof of Authority Form (filled out and scanned in as a document on your computer, ready for uploading to the application)
    2. Proof of Business document (certificate of incorporation, or business registration, or T2 Corporation Income Tax Return)
  4. Office addresses
    1. where records of regulated activities are kept
    2. billing addresses
    3. physical addresses
  5. Preventive Controls Plan (PCP) and Traceability Plan. You may already have one for your provincial license as a manufacturer. This is just a matter of having the document on hand on your computer to uploading with the application. If you do not have a written PCP, you will need to create one before you can request an SFC License. You can still sign up for a My CFIA account, but you will have to wait to request the SFC license until you have a written PCP in place.

Once you have the required documents, please go to the My CFIA site and sign up for your account. Instructions are straightforward; just follow the prompts.

*Please see “Annex 1: Background and prep for a My CFIA Party Profile and SFCR License Request” for further information on how to create your Party Profile**

Preventive control plan

CFIA requires every food manufacturing facility to have a written Preventive Control Plan (PCP) for their operations.

A PCP is a written document that demonstrates how hazards to your food are identified and prevented, or eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level.

The PCP is based on the internationally accepted principles of the Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene. It includes elements relating to packaging, labeling, grading, and standards of identity and food safety. 

The following table shows the areas that pertain to manufacturers and exporters of Canadian beer. Click on the links below to see a detailed explanation of requirements for each section of your PCP.

Areas that pertain to manufacturers and exporters of Canadian beer

ActivitiesSections of this document that apply to youCorresponding provisions from the SFCR
You have a license to manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package or label food for export and would like to obtain an export certificate or other export permission from the CFIA
  • 89(1)(a),(b) and (e)
  • 89(1)(c) and (e); 89(2)

Full details on PCP can be found on  CFIA's regulatory requirements page.

To help breweries understand what a completed PCP looks like for the brewing industry, please see Annex 2: Sample Preventive Control Plan for Breweries.

Traceability plans

To meet the requirements in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, each manufacturer must have a traceability plan. The requirements are based on the international standard established by Codex Alimentarius – tracking food one step forward to the immediate customer and one step back to the immediate supplier – and help facilitate recalls and consumer protection.

Manufacturers must identify the source of each ingredient that goes into the production of their beer and must prepare, keep, and retain traceability documents for each product produced. Manufacturers must also keep a record of buyers to which the products are sold, traceable through their lot codes.

For more information on how to complete a traceability plan for your facility, please visit CFIA’s traceability for food page.

Traceability plan for exporters

If the manufacturer is using a third party (Exporter – not involved in the manufacture of the goods) to export their products, the exporter will need to use a simplified traceability plan.

  1. Identify the food
    • Common name of food: Beer
    • Name and address of company who manufactured, stored, packaged, labeled the food.
      Name of Brewery and each product ordered is recorded on Product Order Sheet.
    • Unique Identifier: Lot Code from each product is recorded on Product Order Sheet.
  2. One step back:
    • Name of food manufacturer: Name of Brewery recorded on Product Order Sheet.
    • Date delivered: date recorded on Product Order Sheet.
  3. One step forward:
    • Name of the organization to which the food was sold: Buyer is recorded on Product Order Sheet.
    • Shipper information: Shipper recorded on Product Order Sheet.
    • Date delivered to buyer: Handoff to shipper date recorded and ETA date recorded on Product Order Sheet.

Other certifications (optional)

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification is an internationally recognized system that indicates a business has gone through the necessary 3rdparty audit and has developed principles and procedures to ensure that all food safety risks are covered.

A HACCP based system is a legal requirement for food manufacturers in several countries and regarded favourably when entering new markets around the world. This certification is optional but recommended.

For more information on how to apply for HACCP certification in Canada, please visit the Beer Canada website.

British Retail Consortium

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), founded in 1996, publishes standards that describe quality, safety, and operational criteria for manufacturers in order to attain BRC certification for food safety standards. These harmonized food safety standards are recognized globally and used by suppliers in over 130 countries around the world.

BRC certification is optional but considered one of the leading global food safety certification standards.

Harmonized System codes for beer

Harmonized System (HS) Codes are a standardized method for classifying products for import and export. The harmonized system is used by customs authorities to identify products when assessing duties (tariffs), taxes and other fees.

You will need an HS code for your products for the following:

  • Export Declaration
  • Shipping documentation such as commercial invoice, certificate of origin
  • To determine import tariff rates in the country you are shipping to and determine if your product qualifies for a preferential tariff under a free trade agreement
  • To conduct market research and obtain trade statistics

Canada uses an eight-digit HS export number to classify products for export. There are two headings to consider when using HS codes for beer: non-alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverages.

Non-alcoholic beverages are considered to have an alcoholic strength by volume not exceeding 0.5% vol. and are classified under heading 22.02. The eight-digit HS code for non-alcoholic beer is 2202.91.00.

Beer made from malt is classified under heading 22.03. The eight-digit HS code for beer made from malt is 2203.00.00 for beer made from malt.

For more information on Canadian Export Classifications, please visit Statistics Canada’s export classifications of beverages, spirits and vinegar.

To find tariff information on countries you are exporting to, please refer to the Tariff Finder.

Pricing your products

Pricing your products for export requires a solid knowledge of the true cost of materials and labour that go into manufacturing your product. Compared to selling your product in Canada, there are far less expenses that need to be accounted for when setting a sale price.  This process is important because the additional logistics, export and import costs will substantially increase the cost of your beer in the foreign market.

The following are costs that can be omitted when determining the price of your product:

  • Federal Excise Duty
  • GST, PST and/or HST
  • Deposits & Recycling Fees
  • Provincial Markups
  • Expenses related to storage

In most cases, shipments will be picked up from the brewery, so any fees from any provincial warehouses (receiving, stocking, etc.) will not apply.

The following costs will have varying impact on your pricing depending on the incoterms used as well as the relationship with the importer and/or exporter you are working with:

  • Expenses related to shipping (certain incoterms will require you to pay for part of the shipping)
  • Sales & Marketing expenses (if importer/exporter is taking on some or all of these tasks)

A general rule of thumb is to determine the cost of making your product by considering the costs of:

  • raw materials
  • direct utilities
  • time spent in fermenters and/or aging tanks and/or bright beer tanks
  • packaging materials

Next, it is essential to mark the product up in accordance with your profit margin goals. When marking the product up and setting your sale price, it is useful to engage importers and other key contacts to gauge the competitive landscape and remain competitive.

Understanding Incoterms® 2020

International Commercial Terms (Incoterms®) are legal commercial terms used to determine the responsibilities of the buyer and the seller during the shipping process. Incoterms® are developed and regulated by the International Chamber of Commerce for international trade and are designed to define the point at which the responsibility and ownership for the shipment transfers from the seller to the buyer and to determine which costs are covered by the seller and which costs are covered by the buyer. Costs include:

  • transportation fees
  • import and export processes
  • insurance
  • loading and unloading of the product

If you choose the wrong incoterms, you may be surprised with additional costs you had not intended to bear.

There are eleven incoterms, divided into two main categories:

  • Terms for use with any mode or modes of transport: EXW, FCA, CPT, CIP, DPU, DAP, DDP
  • Terms for use with sea and inland waterway transport: FAS, FOB, CFR, CIF

The terms most favourable for exporters are EXW, FCA, FAS, and FOB as the buyer pays for the shipping costs.

The following definitions of the most favourable terms are from Incoterms® 2010, published by the International Chamber of Commerce.

EXW – Ex Works

“Ex Works” means that the seller delivers when it places the goods at the disposal of the buyer at the seller’s premises or at another named place (i.e., works factory, warehouse, etc.). The seller does not need to load the goods on any collecting vehicle, nor does it need to clear the goods for export, where such clearance is applicable.

FCA – Free Carrier

“Free Carrier” means that the seller delivers the goods to the carrier or another person nominated by the buyer at the seller’s premises or another named place. The parties are well advised to specify as clearly as possible the point within the named place of delivery, as the risk passes to the buyer at that point.

FAS – Free Alongside Ship

“Free Alongside Ship” means that the seller delivers when the goods are placed alongside the vessel (e.g., on a quay or a barge) nominated by the buyer at the named port of shipment. The risk of loss of or damage to the goods passes when the goods are alongside the ship, and the buyer bears all costs from that moment onwards.

FOB – Free On Board

“Free On Board” means that the seller delivers the goods on board the vessel nominated by the buyer at the named port of shipment or procures the goods already so delivered. The risk of loss of or damage to the goods passes when the goods are on board the vessel, and the buyer bears all costs from that moment onwards.

Useful resources

Receive a free Introduction to Incoterms® 2020
Download a free wall chart of Incoterms® 2020
Get the free app for Incoterms® 2020

The Incoterms® Rules are protected by copyright owned by ICC.  Further information on the Incoterm® Rules may be obtained from the ICC website.  Incoterms® and the Incoterms® 2020 logo are trademarks of ICC.  Use of these trademarks does not imply association with, approval of or sponsorship by ICC unless specifically stated above.

International shipping pallets

Proper international shipping pallets must be used for all palletized shipments leaving Canada. There are different types of pallet materials ranging from plastic to wood, with wood pallets being the most economical. The use of improper pallets may result in import delays or refusal of entry to the country of import.

Wooden shipping pallets must comply with phyto-sanitary standards and bare the internationally recognized mark.

The IPPC mark/ISPM 15 is required on at least two opposite sides of each pallet used for shipping internationally as this certifies that all solid wood has met heat treatment (HT) requirements.

Sample IPPC/ISPM 15 mark:
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The International standard pallet size is 48” x 40” however, you should confirm with your importer for any special requirements.

Pallet Dimensions (inches)Pallet Dimensions (millimeters)Most used in the following Region(s)
48.00 x 40.001219 x 1016North America
44.88 x 44.881140 x 1140Australia
43.30 x 43.301100 x 1100Asia
42.00 x 42.001067 x 1067North America, Europe, Asia
39.37 x 47.241000 x 1200Europe, Asia
31.50 x 47.24800 x 600Europe (fits tight spaces and many doorways

Pallets can be new or recycled and sourced through Uline, CHEP, Pallet King, or other local suppliers.

Examples of pricing for new, recycled and block pallets can be found on the following Uline pages:  

Required export documents

Certificate of free sale

Check with your importer to determine if a COFS is required for the country to which you are exporting. If so, proceed with the following steps to apply for an export application online:

  • go online to your My CFIA account
  • click on your Party Profile
  • scroll to the bottom and click New Service Request

The instructions are straightforward; just follow the prompts for each section.

Lot Code box

The lot code refers to a code that used to identify a lot that was manufactured, prepared, produced, stored, graded, packaged, or labelled, under the same conditions. A lot code can be numeric, alphabetic, or alphanumeric. (Examples are production date, best before date, batch number). The Lot Code must match what is marked on the can/bottle label (usually on bottom of the can or wherever you lot mark your product) in order for it to pass inspection at the destination country. Whatever you stamp on the cans/bottles must be entered in the Lot Code box.

See the CFIA website for a step-by-step guide on how to fill out your application for Certificate of Free Sale and Application for Certificate of Free Sale form (Internet Explorer only).

Export declaration

An export declaration is a customs form that must be submitted when exporting commercial goods from Canada. Reporting can be filled through an automated service when exporting to countries other than the United States (U.S.), Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Useful resources:

You are required to report all exports to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) according to the following schedule:

  • Air: 2 hours before the goods are loaded onto the aircraft
  • Marine: 48 hours before the goods are loaded onto the vessel
  • Rail: 2 hours before the goods are loaded onto the railcar
  • Road: Immediately before leaving the country

You can also request your shipper to fill out the export declaration on your behalf.

Certificate of origin

A certificate of origin (CO) is an international trade document completed by exporters to declare the origin of their products. When exporting internationally you must include a certificate of origin with your shipment.

The importer uses this document at customs to justify the products eligibility for entry into the country and any preferential tariff treatment that may apply.

Where a free trade agreement (FTA) is in force between Canada and the country you are exporting to, you should use a preferential CO.

There is no global standard form for certificates of origin, so the required information and format will vary according to the rules of the free trade agreement. For Canada’s three major agreements, the basics of creating a certificate of origin or equivalent are as follows:

  • NAFTA/CUSMA: With the introduction of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), a certificate of free sale is required to claim preferential tariff treatment. Visit the CBSA website for more comprehensive information on what is required to certify the origin of goods
  • Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA): The CETA rules do not require a formal certificate in order to obtain tariff benefits. A declaration on the invoice or any other commercial document accompanying the shipment is enough. The declaration has a specific wording, which is available in Annex 2 – Text of the origin Declaration.
  • Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP): This is a multilateral FTA between Canada and 10 other nations. There is no standard certificate template, but the minimum data requirements are the same for all CPTPP members. You can find them in Annex 3-B of the agreement. You can add the declaration to any document accompanying the shipment, or on a separate document. The declaration must include the statement given in part 9 of Annex 3-B.

To find certificate forms for Canada’s other free trade agreements, go to the Forms section of the CBSA website and type “certificate of origin” into the Filter Items box. Also, visit Export Development Canada’s website for more information on understanding certificates of origin .

If an FTA is not in force between Canada and the country to which you are exporting, a non-preferential certificate of origin can be obtained from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) for a fee. The CCC is accredited by the International Chamber of Commerce as an issuing body for providing these certificates in Canada. Even if there are no preferential tariff treatments, the document is used by customs authorities to determine tariff amounts and for statistical purposes.

Free Trade Agreement - Certificate of Origin Form
North American Free Trade Agreement – Certificate of Origin Form

Additional shipping documents

Proforma or commercial invoice

Proforma and commercial invoices are important documents used in global trade. Once your buyer has issued a purchase order, you can issue a proforma invoice. The proforma invoice confirms the details of the order and can include your bank details for requesting payment.

The commercial invoice is issued once the goods have been shipped and confirms the exact quantity of products that have been loaded and shipped. Due to manufacturing issues, supply issues, etc., the quantity on the proforma can differ from the actual commercial invoice.

The commercial invoice is used by the buyer, freight forwarder, and Customs authorities to clear the goods into the country of import and determine the value of goods for appropriate tariffs/taxes applied.

Do not include extra items in your shipment of beer.  Some free t-shirts, coasters, stickers or marketing materials not included in your export documents could delay clearance of your perishable beer for weeks.

See Annex 3 for a commercial invoice specimen.

Packing list

A packing list details what is shipped from the seller to the buyer and used by your freight forwarder to generate a bill of lading for your shipment. Customs officials use the packing list to verify goods and clear for entry into the destination country.

The packing list identifies all items in your shipment and includes the net and gross weights and dimensions of packages as well as markings that appear on the packages.

You can use your packing list to double-check against your purchase order from the buyer to ensure you are sending the correct items. Items listed on packing list must match all items on your commercial invoice.

There are different types of packing lists and depending on your shipment; you may choose to use a packing list for full container shipments (FCL) or a detailed packing list for less than container load (LCL) shipments. The detailed packing list will show what is on each pallet when shipping mixed pallets.

See Annex 4 for packing list specimens

Packing declaration

A packing declaration describes the type of packing materials used to pack your products in the container. All timber packaging, including wooden pallets and dunnage, must be ISPM15 compliant to protect against the spread of insects and disease. Your packing declaration is a statement on company letterhead that details the type of packing materials used in your shipment and that all timber meets ISPM15 requirements. Pallets will bear the heat-treated ISPM15 stamp and the signed document ensures that your shipment will not be pulled for quarantine and treatment before clearing customs at the country of destination.

See Annex 5 for a packing declaration specimen

Shipper’s letter of instruction

A shipper’s letter of instruction (SLI) is a contract between the shipper (you) and the freight company organizing the transport of your shipment. This document provides information required for your freight forwarder to handle the export of your goods and provides ports, customs, and shipping lines involved in the transaction with all relevant information.

See Annex 6 for a shipper’s letter of instruction specimen

Checklist for craft beer export

This checklist provides as an overview of the steps and considerations for exporting craft beer from Canada.

General requirements

  1. I have an RM number from CRA
  2. I have a My CFIA account and an SFCR License from CFIA
  3. My product has been manufactured or prepared in accordance with Canadian regulations (including labelling)
  4. I have documented preventative food safety controls in place
  5. I am aware of the fees for certification, inspection and sampling for my product through cost recovery
  6. I have traceability procedures for my product including any suppliers and buyers one step forward and one step back
  7. I have all the following documents required for the export of my beer:
    • Certificate of Free Sale
    • B13a Export Declaration Form
    • Certificate of Origin

Foreign country requirements

I have consulted and aware of the importing country’s requirements for my beer through a review of:

  • CFIA Export Library
  • Foreign Authority
  • My Importer
  • Trade Commissioner

Export certification

  1. I have applied for a Certificate of Free Sale from CFIA
  2. I meet the attestations and statements of the Certificate of Free Sale and have completed the certificate
  3. I have notified CFIA for any inspection or testing required in order to be eligible to export

Validation / certification

  1. I am aware that at any time, the foreign country I am exporting to may come and audit my establishment to be on their export list, or they may visit my establishment as part of an audit of CFIA's inspection systems
  2. I may be asked to take corrective actions that are above those of the Canadian regulatory requirements to maintain specific market access

Shipping craft beer for export

  1. I am aware of the use and control of certificates and certificate numbers
  2. I am aware of the use and control of stamps, stickers and seals for my beer
  3. I am aware of the food safety requirements for the transportation method chosen for my beer

Building capacity

When planning to export, you will need to assess the current production capacity of your brewery and plan any necessary expansion. Capacity expansion may be required for fermenter and bright beer tank capacity, but for new equipment for pasteurization, packaging and even cold storage space. It is essential to speak with your buyers and/or importers when planning any expansion to ensure that your facility can handle the volume of export production as well as meet the local requirements for packaging and shelf life specified by the buyer.

If your brewery is looking to use additional available tank capacity, export can be a helpful method to keep the capacity profitable. However, keep in mind that excess capacity is generally a temporary state in a healthy business, so it is prudent to ensure export goals are integrated into any future expansion planning.

Contract brewing and licensing

If additional capacity within your own physical brewery is not an option, you may want to consider alternative methods of production, such as contract brewing or licensed production. Both aforementioned options are effective ways to increase production volumes with minimal capital investment.

The prevalent downside to a contract or licensed production agreement is added costs and therefore lower profit margins.

The primary benefit of these production arrangements is that they typically have a drastically shorter lead-time to production as there is no delay as there would be with fabrication and commissioning of new equipment. Additionally, the immediate cash flow impact of contract brewing is lower than that of purchasing and installing new equipment. If you are looking at selling in a country which has different package sizing than Canada (i.e. 330mL vs 355mL cans) it may be advantageous to produce your beer outside of Canada and make use of the supply of the appropriate package sizes.

Contract production

Contract production is the production of a product to a brewery’s specifications in a facility not owned by the brewery. Contract production allows the brewery to continue to produce the product within Canada and maintain ownership and control of the recipe but also the physical ownership of the beer. It may also be possible to contract-produce your beer overseas though it may be more complicated logistically than licensed production (for example sourcing similar ingredients overseas).

Licensed production

Licensed production differs from contract brewing as it is generally produced at a facility within the buying party’s country. An example of this would be an Ontario-based brewery who licenses the production of their stout recipe and all related branding to a manufacturer in Australia.

Grants and other resources

If your brewery decides to add physical capacity to your existing facilities, you may be eligible for government grants that cover some of the costs associated with such activities. AgPal is a fantastic resource for research into grants for which your brewery may be eligible. Additionally, the Canadian Agriculture Partnership website has links to provincial contacts for agri-food grants for which breweries may qualify. You can also inquire with your local craft brewers association for other local grants that may be available.

In summary, there are three main ways to increase your capacity, each with their own benefits and downsides. The most essential partnership in understanding which method is best for your situation is the partnership with your exporter or buyer. Understanding the needs and timelines of the buyer will help you choose the most appropriate method, long-term or short-term of increasing your capacity.

Marketing your products

The first step to successful marketing is to pick the right product to market.  If you have a beer made with ingredients associated with Canada (iceberg water, maple syrup, etc.), these will be great to market abroad.  Acknowledging that this is not possible for all breweries, how do you market your standard lineup of beers abroad?

If your marketing is well received in Canada, it is not necessarily the case that changes are required for foreign markets.  Having said that, it is obviously best to tailor marketing to your new audience.

The first step is to understand any legal restrictions in the export market.  Certain countries have an outright ban on the advertising of alcohol.  Other countries have mandatory disclaimers and disclosures on alcohol advertising (health warnings or responsible consumption statements).  In addition, the export country may have an alcohol advertising code. Your import partner will help you with these.

Of course, marketing of your beer is not restricted to advertising.  Your label art and packaging is itself marketing and if you are preparing labels for export markets (to comply with export labelling requirements), this is a great opportunity to tailor your beer label and packaging to the foreign market.

Whether your marketing will be stand alone advertising materials or restricted to your labels, the following factors should be considered.

The entire premise of this export guide is that Canada has a great global reputation.  Your marketing materials should take advantage of that.  Canadian nature imagery should be utilized, as well as the maple leaf, a globally recognized symbol of Canada. In addition, as Canada is perceived as an agricultural country, any grain to glass aspects of your beer should be promoted.

Certain countries have a specific affinity for certain aspects of Canadiana. The Canadian Rockies are popular with Asian and German tourists.  Polar bears and other Canadian animals are adored in specific countries.  Even "Anne of Green Gables" imagery is popular in certain countries. Work with your importer to take advantage of this.

In our experience, foreign markets rely heavily on public beer ratings (for example, Untappd) in choosing unknown beers.  To the extent that your beers and brewery have good ratings, these should be emphasized in marketing materials.  Similarly, let consumers know about any awards your beers have won.  Keeping in mind that your beer is likely to be relatively expensive in the foreign market, anything that can demonstrate that your beer is worth the extra money is a great way to overcome buyer resistance.

For printed material, while it is not always necessary to have the material translated, if you choose to do so, work with a good and reputable translator.  Good translators do not just translate words.  They can translate tone and protect you from using awkward phrases that have different connotations in foreign languages.

Leave your beer names in English.  This will help drinkers find your beers on public rating websites and names rarely translate into other languages well.  If your beer name is a pun, that pun will almost never translate, so just leave the name in English.

The Government of Canada often organizes or sponsors "Taste of Canada" events in foreign countries.  These can take the form of trade events or pop-up online shops promoting Canadian food products.  Similarly, work with your importer to see if there are any opportunities to participate in local beer festivals.  Around the world, craft beer is a community and nothing will sell your beer as well as your own people telling the story of your beer and brewery.

Collaboration brews are also a great way to get out your brewery's name. By partnering with a local brewery in the export market, you bring instant credibility to your brand with the goodwill of your collaboration partner automatically lent to your brewery.

Lastly, be sure you discuss marketing with your import partner from the beginning. Some will take care of all marketing, others will expect you to provide it and others will expect you to provide a marketing budget. These matters need to be determined up front.

In addition to the monetary costs of marketing materials, these materials will likely need to be exported separately.  Marketing materials are goods that are different from beer and will require different documents. Do not include a few free t-shirts (as an example) in your shipment of beer.  Those extra items can have a devastating effect on your shipment if they cause delay on entry or penalties for incorrect documentation.

E-commerce platforms

Due to the Canadian regulatory environment, there are currently few opportunities to sell your beer online within Canada, other than local direct delivery. Therefore, it comes as a surprise to many Canadian breweries that e-commerce platforms selling alcohol are common in other countries and may be an appropriate way for Canadian craft breweries to enter export markets.

To take advantage of these opportunities, you should be able to answer three fundamental questions:

  • will you have your own virtual storefront, or sell your beer through another online marketplace? 
  • will you carry inventory in the export market, or ship from inventory in Canada?
  • will you fulfill orders yourself, or use the services of a fulfillment centre? 

There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

By utilizing your own storefront, you can maintain control of the entire sales process, including capturing the data about your purchasers. Existing marketplaces, by contrast, will capture your sales data and often use it to their own advantage. The flipside of this disadvantage is that an existing marketplace, aside from generally having greater public awareness and trust, can utilize its sales data to direct appropriate customers to your products; significantly reducing your customer acquisition costs. In addition, existing online marketplaces are usually in the correct language and are aware of local tastes and norms. Many online shoppers in foreign countries do not trust international websites at all. Naturally, online marketplaces generally charge fees, ranging from set up and SKU fees to a portion of each sale.

Carrying inventory in the export market obviously costs money, both in terms of the inventory itself and, often, for warehouse space. There will also be management time in monitoring and managing the inventory in another country. However, by carrying inventory in the export market, shipping times and costs are significantly reduced, as is the risk of product damage. In addition, customs clearance is easier, reducing the probability of further shipping delays damaging consumer trust.

According to one study, the following barriers are experienced when inventory is not maintained in the foreign country:

  • 61% of shoppers will abandon their cart if shipping, taxes and other fees are too high
  • 53% of shoppers say speed of delivery is an important factor when evaluating online orders
  • 25% of shoppers have cancelled an order because of slow delivery
  • 38% of shoppers will never shop with a retailer again if they had a poor delivery experience

For these reasons, there are significant benefits to maintaining inventory within the foreign country.

Once an order is placed, it must be fulfilled. You can have your own staff to package and ship the order, or you can use a full-service fulfillment agent. Some online marketplaces offer fulfillment services as well as order processing. There are many significant benefits to using a fulfillment service. They typically offer effortless logistics, including having delivery and service standards, they offer unlimited storage, they can reduce the cost of shipping (particularly if they can ship other products together with your beer), they offer customer service (in the appropriate language) and they can handle returns. The downside of fulfillment services is the added cost to you; first and foremost, often, returns that are too easy as such services are motivated to keep their customers happy, even if at the vendor's expense.

Popular e-commerce platforms for beer

In Europe:

In China:

In Japan:

The Canadian Trade Commission Service is always ready to help. To start, review the online resources on the Trade Commissioner Service E-commerce page.

Market entry strategies

Your first order of business is to determine to which country you wish to export. As discussed elsewhere in this report, different international markets have different levels of receptiveness to import beer and to craft beer. Your ideal export target will be receptive to both, after which you can leverage Canada's reputation and your own marketing strategies to successfully market your beer. Lastly, you should consider whether you could take advantage of counter-cyclicity when choosing an export market. Typically, Canadian breweries are busiest in the summer months and by exporting to markets in the southern hemisphere, there is some ability to increase sales without additional capital expenditure by using off-season excess capacity to make beer for summer elsewhere.

Before you enter a market, be sure that your names, of both your brewery and any beers you wish to export, do not mean something untoward in the export market. Sometimes, there may be local meanings of significance that work in your favour, making one of your beers marketable based on name alone.  Also, check local trademarks and if you wish to protect your own trademarks in the foreign market, work with an appropriate lawyer. The Trade Commissioner Service can provide a list of relevant lawyers.

Once you have decided on your export markets, you must decide how to enter those markets.

Direct sales

One simple way to enter a new market is the same way you entered the domestic market: by hiring a sales team and start selling. Of course, this method can be expensive, in terms of salaries and complying with foreign employment standards, but it has been done with success.

In fact, Collective Arts Brewing of Hamilton, Ontario has built sufficient demand in the United States to warrant building a second brewery, in Brooklyn, New York. Similarly, Lake of the Woods Brewing of Kenora, Ontario has built a brewery in Minnesota to support sales there.  It is not just the US where Canadian breweries have achieved direct sales success. Surrey BC's Russell Brewing opened a brewery in Hefei, China.  Russell’s first brewery was so successful that they built a larger brewery in Jiujiang, China, which has since undergone yet another expansion.

Distributors

Working with an importer or distributor in the export market is arguably the most common way to enter a new market.  Working with someone who understands the import procedure in the foreign country has connections with all the right buyers and an established sales force greatly reduces your risk.

Of course, your distribution partner will need to make money on the transaction, so this will reduce your margins.

When negotiating with your distribution partner, make sure you understand and agree upon shipping terms. 

Also, be sure to come to an agreement on payment terms (including payment currency).  Your distributor will obviously want to pay you as late as possible, while you will want to receive payment as soon as possible.  A common compromise is to require a deposit be paid prior to shipping, which at least covers your product input costs with the profit paid later.

Of course, there will be accounts receivable risk and foreign exchange risk for the duration of the outstanding receivable.  Export Development Canada offers credit risk analysis and receivables insurance (for a fee) while all major banks offer currency-hedging products.

Licensing or contract brewing

As mentioned in Section 4, it is possible to contract brew or have your beer brewed under licence in the foreign market.  As with any other market entry strategy, it will be essential to find a partner that you trust, who will produce your beer with the care that you do at home.  Moreover, of course, it will be necessary to adjust your recipes for the quality and availability of local ingredients.

When it comes to licensing, breweries that have done so advise that it is best to export your beer using traditional methods (i.e. shipping beer to a distributor) to build your brand in the export market before embarking on the licensing strategy.

Bulk exports

It is possible to export beer in large totes for packaging in the foreign market. This strategy has financial advantages such as:

  • more economical shipping
  • reduced risk of breakage in transit
  • packaging in the export market will comply with labelling and recycling requirements

On the other hand, there is risk of oxygen pick up both in transit and during packaging, particularly since that packaging will be outside your control.

Although there are some European breweries exporting bulk beer to North America and then packaging the beer in bottles, cans and kegs, we are not aware of any Canadian brewery employing this strategy for export markets. We discuss this possibility merely for future consideration.

Opportunities in Asia Pacific

Australia

Market overview

In 2018, Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) was valued at US $1.4 trillion, ranking the country of 25.6 million people as the 13th largest economy in the world and Canada's 16th largest trading partner.

Canadian craft beers have the potential to do well in the Australian market. Australian consumers generally, and craft beer consumers in particular, are happy to experiment with new products – including imported beer. Canadian products have a good reputation in the Australian market and regarded as high quality and safe. As a fellow Commonwealth nation, there is an inherent level of trust between the two countries.

Regulations

Excise duty

Excise duty, or a customs duty equivalent for imported alcohol, is payable on all alcohol products sold in Australia. Excise rates are expressed per litre of alcohol for alcoholic beverages. The volume of alcohol subject to excise duty is calculated by multiplying the actual volume of product by its alcoholic strength. Excise rates for alcohol are indexed twice a year, in line with the consumer price index. Generally, indexation occurs in February and August.

For beer excise duty is payable on the alcohol content above 1.15% ABV in the finished product.  Australia is the only Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country applying different excise rates to beer for packaged beer and for draught beer. In addition, there are differing rates based on the alcohol content of the beer, with rates changing at 1.15% ABV, 3.0% ABV, 3.5% ABV and 10% ABV thresholds. Consult the Canadian government Tariff Finder website for specifics.

The bottom line is Australia has the fourth highest excise duty on beer in the industrialised world.

Goods and service tax

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is imposed at a rate of 10% of the retail price of the beer, inclusive of the excise tax.

As a result, tax (excise and GST) accounts for almost half (42%) of the price of a typical carton of full-strength beer.

Recycling

Despite some considerable efforts to introduce a national container deposit scheme, Australia has State-based schemes. South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory currently have Container Deposit Schemes, with the other States expected to follow in the coming years (Tasmania is expected to introduce its scheme in 2022; and a Victorian scheme will be introduced in 2023).  Work with your importer/distributor to ensure compliance.

Labelling

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is the Australian Government agency that develops food standards for Australia and New Zealand.  The food standards are included in the Food Standards Code.  FSANZ includes labeling requirements in the Food Standards Code - this document is a User Guide, which provides an overview for the requirements of the Food Standards Code as they relate to the labelling of alcoholic beverages.

Australia has an Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) administered by a Management Committee, which includes industry, advertising and government representatives, which, in addition to writing the code, administers a pre-vetting service (for a fee) and a complaints handling process.  Packaging that falls within any one of the following categories will breach the ABAC standard if it is:

  • likely to appeal strongly to minors
  • specifically targeted at minors
  • particular attractiveness for a minor beyond its general attractiveness for an adult
  • using imagery, designs, motifs, animations, or cartoon characters that are likely to appeal strongly to minors, or that create confusion with confectionary or soft drinks
  • using brand identification, including logos, on clothing, toys, or other merchandise for use primarily by minors

Competitive pricing model

Consumers are also willing to pay a premium price for craft beer (and therefore it is possible to cover the extra costs of transporting beer to Australia and sell the beer at a profit).  Craft beer drinkers are familiar with the example of wine where the Australian market caters to a range of customers from those looking for a bottle under $10 to those willing to pay more than $100 a bottle.

Market entry strategies

While there are a small number of importers who distribute Canadian beer in Australia, Canadian beer is certainly not widely available in Australia.  The larger grocery chains expect consistency of supply and many small breweries in Canada have not been able to meet these requirements. Canadian craft breweries have enjoyed some limited success with specialty shops.

Canadian craft beer exporters should identify importers/distributors as potential partners in the Australian market. This is the best means of getting your products into the Australian market and is the approach pursued by most Canadian exporters when they initially enter the Australian market.

Another way of show casing your beer to the Australian market is to attend one or more of the trade shows held in Australia.  The best trade show for beer in Australia is Good Beer Week held in May.  Its website describes it as "a global festival made up of more than 300 diverse and innovative events across Melbourne and Victoria that attracts seventy-five thousand attendees from across Australia and overseas."  There are, of course, other similar events.

The 2019 Australian Craft Beer Survey discusses the importance of social media, beer news and brewery websites and blogs in show casing new and innovative craft beers to Australian consumers.  It will be important to support your importer/distributor and trade show efforts with these forms of electronic communications specifically directed at Australian craft beer consumers.

According to the 2019 Australian Craft Beer Survey, with the large, mostly foreign-owned corporate breweries increasingly developing their own craft brands or acquiring successful independent brewers, consumers have started to question the independence of local brewers. Australian Independent Brewers Association has released an "Independence Seal" which is now widely recognized by craft beer drinkers.

There has recently been significant growth in consumers purchasing craft beer online.  Thirty percent purchased beer online at least every six months or more often in 2019, compared to 22% in 2018.  Craft beer specialty websites account for the majority of purchases.

Logistics

The major seaport in Australia is Melbourne.  On the west coast, the Port of Hedland is the largest container port in Australia.  Other major ports include Sydney, Brisbane, and Freemantle.  Keeping in mind that seasons in the southern hemisphere are opposite those of Canada, temperature-controlled containers are advisable, given the swing in temperature during transit.

Contact

David Ingham
Trade Commissioner
High Commission of Canada
Commonwealth Avenue, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
Tel:  +61 2 6270 4034
Fax:  +61 2 6270 4081 
email: david.ingham@international.gc.ca

China

Market overview

China is the largest beer market in the world. While overall beer volume is trending down, as consumer purchasing power is rising, the dollar value of the beer market is growing.  Young Chinese consumers, in particular, are acquiring a taste for international premium products, but craft beer is still immature, representing less than 0.1% of the overall beer market.

Even as imported beer is growing in China, Canada is lagging. Canada is China's 35th largest import partner for beer.  There is plenty of opportunity for Canadian breweries!

Regulations

Registration

In order to export beer to China, your brewery will need to be registered with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China (AQSIQ).  AQSIQ issues many regulations relating to food and wine, which are beyond the scope of this report. Suffice it to say the regulations are extensive, so understand these rules well, or work with a Chinese import partner.

Labelling

The Chinese beer market embraces claims of premium products.  Labels should use words like "premium" to promote their high quality. Any certifications, including awards listed on the label, will require proof through documentation (that is, you will have to file copies of your certifications and awards certificates).  Other helpful claims include:

  • "no additives"
  • "no preservatives"
  • "seasonal"
  • "environmentally friendly packaging"
  • "limited edition"

 Having said that, certain other labels, such as "organic" are prohibited.

The alcohol content of your beer must be marked with the unit followed by "% vol".  Beers must also disclose the original wort concentration, titled with "original wort concentration" and the unit shall be "°P".  Country of origin, manufacturing date, type of beer, contents (in metric) and the name and address of the Chinese distributor must all be on the label.

The label must also include the following warnings: 

  1. "Excessive drinking is harmful to health (过量饮酒有害健康)"
  2.  If the beer is packaged in a glass bottle, the label must state, "do not hit to prevent the explosion of the bottle (切勿撞击,防止爆瓶)".

Shelf life must also be disclosed but fermented alcoholic beverages (alcoholic beverages whose alcohol content is greater than 10% ABV) are exempt from this requirement.

Your beer label will need to be registered with and approved by AQSIQ before the beer leaves Canada.  Given the complexity of the regulations, and the language and cultural differences, working with a local company in China is very important.

Banned ingredients

A number of ingredients common in Canadian brewing, particularly clarifying agents such as Biofine, are banned in China.  There are a number of other restricted ingredients for beer (for example saffron and elderflower), so if you brew beers with unusual ingredients, you should not assume that just because they are acceptable in Canada, they would be acceptable in China.  Be sure to work with a local import agent to make sure you do not inadvertently conflict with these bans.

There are a number of food safety standards with which import breweries must comply. These are not a simple matter and Canadian breweries would be well advised to work with a local company to ensure compliance. For example, beers with low pH may not be accepted, so currently popular kettle sour beers may be rejected for import into China.

Product testing

Products are tested before they are released in China and often food products, including beer, require lab testing before they are permitted to leave Canada.

Taxes

Customs duties, value-added and consumption taxes are applicable and assessed at the point of importation. If you are working with an importer, make sure it is clear who is responsible for paying these taxes.

Customs clearance

The documents required for import clearance are:

  • commercial invoice
  • purchasing agreement
  • packing slip
  • certificate of authenticity/certificate of free sale
  • certificate of origin

Competitive pricing model

The Chinese beer market is price sensitive. Mass market Tsingtao, for example, can be purchased in 24-packs of 330ml cans for RMB218 (approximately $27).  Twenty-four bottles of Duvel, by contrast, sells for RMB336 (approximately $67).

Market entry strategies

Although the craft beer market is relatively small in China, it is growing.  The market for stout, for example, has grown about 50% per year for the last several years.  While the overall beer market favours on-trade, craft beer strongly favours off-trade.

500ml is the most popular package size, followed by 330ml (common for beers from Europe and Australia) and 355ml.  As of 2017, the 473ml can was essentially non-existent in China.

Despite an interest in foreign beer, the population of China strongly supports domestic companies.  Therefore, a partnership or joint venture with a domestic brewer is a viable strategy. Either way, it is essential to partner with a local agent.  There are regional preferences that are best understood by local agents.

It can take a long time to build a trusting relationship with a new business partner. Therefore, if possible, an introduction through a common party is a better way to start. Expect to have several meetings to build a relationship before any actual business is conducted.

When considering a market as large as China, it is important for breweries to make targeted market entry plans. There is severe competition and Canadian brands generally lack brand recognition and limited customer awareness. Canadian breweries entering the China market should be prepared to spend resources on developing a market working in concert with their importer.

The Chinese market generally eschews high-alcohol beers. There is a very strong preference for beers 5% ABV or lower.  Cheap domestic beers range between 2% ABV and 3% ABV, so 5% ABV is already perceived as strong beer.

Chinese consumers, especially millennial urbanites in first-tier cities, buy almost everything online. This includes foreign beer due to the convenience of the developed delivery system in tier-one cities. Beer can be sold online through an online Chinese supermarket and high-end beers are generally purchased online.  The most used and trusted e-commerce platforms include Tmall and JD.com.

Chinese millennials are active on social media. In China, WeChat and Weibo reign supreme. Indeed, WeChat, which incorporates email, is often the preferred platform for conducting business.

China has a reputation for intellectual property theft. If you intend to protect your intellectual property rights, be aware that the China Trade Mark Office operates on a "first-to-file" basis.

Logistics

With a relatively long coastline, China has 34 major ports and thousands of minor ports. The Port of Shanghai is not only the largest port in China, but also the largest port in the world.  It is the gateway to the Yangtze River delta.

With so many ports, is will be a simple matter of working with your freight forwarder to find an efficient route for your beer.

Contacts

Yuan Ping (Sophia)
Trade Commissioner
Embassy of Canada
19 Dongzhimenwai Dajia, Chaoyang
Beijing, PRC 100600
Tel:  +86 10 51394151
Fax:  +86 10 51394450
email: ping.yuan@international.gc.ca

Japan

Market overview

The Japanese beer market is the fourth largest in the world. As with much of the rest of the world, over the last few years, overall beer sales are down or stagnant. In addition, with much of the rest of the world, craft beer is the exception to this downward trend. Having said that, craft beer remains less than 1% of the total beer market.

Canada has had the highest growth increase in exporting beer to Japan in the past five years with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 88% albeit from a small base. In 2017, Japanese imports of Canadian beer were US $197,622.

Regulations

Tariffs

There is no beer tariff in Japan for beer from Canada. However, beer is taxed at different rates based on malt content. Canadian brewers using all malt should be aware that their products will be taxed at the highest rate.

Labelling

The Japanese government must approve all beer labels.  There is a significant amount of information required on the label in Japanese that must be on each individual can or bottle and on any packaging (like a six-pack box).  Most importers will require you to affix these labels in Canada, but some importers may be able to change labels in Japan. In either event, Canadian breweries should work closely with their importer to ensure compliance with these requirements.

Recycling

Your cans and bottles are required to carry the Japanese recycling symbol. No further registration of the container itself is required.

Competitive pricing model

Canadian craft beer can be priced at two to three times that of domestic premium beer.

Market entry strategies

It is recommended that companies work closely with a local partner to determine the exact export and retail requirements for the market as local companies have a large presence in the Japanese beer market. Companies interested in pursuing these markets should consider gaining first-hand experience through trade shows and conferences.

Two trends in craft beer are the divergence of alcohol strength. Both high-alcohol beers and non-alcoholic beers are growing in popularity.

Sales of beer have suffered in the last few years due to the increasing popularity of spirits-based RTDs.  Local breweries have responded with high-alcohol beers (7% to 8% ABV) which have proven popular.

Conversely, consumers over 40 wishing to enjoy beer on weekdays have gravitated to non-alcoholic beers.

Craft beer is growing dramatically at compound rates over 40%. Wheat/weiss/weizen itself is growing at compound rates over 60%. However, it should be kept in mind that these growth rates are from a small base. In 2007, craft beer represented less than 0.5% of sales.  By 2016, it had more than tripled to 1.74% market share.

Japan has significant beer off-trade, particularly in craft beer. However, imported beer has had significant growth on-trade as consumers dining out are more likely to try foreign beer.

Internet retailing of beer is not popular. In 2017, only 2.3% of beer was sold online, having dropped from a high of 3% in 2015.

Logistics

The five largest container ports in Japan are:

  • Kobe
  • Nagoya
  • Osaka
  • Tokyo
  • Yokohama

We are aware that some Canadian breweries have exported small quantities of beer using airfreight.

Contact

Noboru Shimizu
Trade Commissioner
Embassy of Canada
3-38, Akasaka 7-Chome, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8503
Tel: +81 3-5412-6482
Fax: +81 3-5412-6327
email: Noboru.Shimizu@international.gc.ca

South Korea

Market overview

South Korea has a highly educated work force with low unemployment and low public debt, and has enjoyed sustained steady economic growth.

South Korea is the 11th largest market for beer in the world, just ahead of Canada in the 12th spot. Craft beer has seen explosive growth in South Korea since 2014.  Millennials, particularly, are looking for greater diversity and new flavours. Prior to this trend, two large domestic brewers dominated the South Korean beer market.

Social drinking after work is a part of professional life in South Korea. "Hoesik" literally means dinner with co-workers, but it often means drinking with them. Company dinners (drinking) after a long workday are very common.  Spirits were the drink of choice for hoesik (in 2014, South Korea ranked first in the world for shots of alcohol consumed), but younger people are seeking drinks with lower alcohol.

Currently, the awareness of Canadian craft beer in the South Korean market is very low. While some products were imported in the past, few are currently distributed in the market. Therefore, as a perception of Canadian craft beers has not been established, there is opportunity.

Regulations

By law, only licensed liquor importers are allowed to import alcoholic beverages, including beer.

Tariffs

The South Korean tariff on beer, currently 4.2%, will be eliminated by 2021 (it has been lowered every year since 2015).  However, both domestic and imported alcohol are taxed at 72%, based on the import price. Under a new liquor tax that took effect on January 1, 2020, beer receives a discount from this tax.  Packaged beer receives a 24% discount while beer distributed in kegs receives a 20% discount.

Labelling

All imported food products are required to carry Korean language labels.  There are labelling standards that apply to all food products, including beer. ((South Korea) Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, 2019)  Labelling standards can be complicated and breweries should work with an experienced importer to ensure compliance.

Translated sample label from an American craft beer in South Korea
Korean Labelling in compliance with Food Sanitation Act
Product nameNew Belgium Fat Tire Belgian White
Product type / BeerCountry of Origin / USA
Contents and alcohol volume335 ml
Importer's name and addressShinsegae L&B
IngredientsPurified water, malt, wheat, oat, yeast.
Name of manufacturerNew Belgium Brewing Company
Where to return or exchangeImporter
Manufacture date2018. 7. 20
Shelf life2019. 7. 20
Storage conditionDo not expose directly to sunlight.
Fraudulent or unsanitary foods report Call 1399
Warning: Excessive drinking causes stroke, memory impairment or dementia. Drinking in pregnancy raises the risk of birth of congenital anomaly.
The sale to persons under 18 is prohibited
For large-size storesNot allowed to be sold in restaurants and bars

While there are some export markets where compliance with labelling requirements can be satisfied with a strip label, for South Korea, it is likely you will have to print a label specifically for the market.

Recycling

Recycling labelling of all beer containers is mandatory. The symbol varies by colour and lettering depending on the container material. Your importer should assist with compliance.

Customs clearance

For import declaration for food, a list of all ingredients with component proportion ratio (100%) and process flow diagram will be required.

A bill of lading, commercial invoice and packing list are the required documents for import clearance. In addition, to take advantage of the tariff benefit of Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, a certificate of origin signed by the Canadian brewery is required.

Foreign manufacturers should register with the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety at least seven days before import declaration.  Registration is done online at the Ministry's website.

As with other aspects of exporting to South Korea, breweries are advised to work with their South Korean import partners regarding detailed documents and registration.

Competitive pricing model

For imported beer, lower-priced beers or major beer makers are sold at 10,000 won (approximately $11 CAD) for four cans of 500ml at convenience stores and hypermarkets. Some craft beers from large-sized craft breweries are available at the same price for three or four cans. Most craft beers are sold at over 5,000 won (approximately $5.50 CAD) for 355ml or 473ml can or bottle in retail stores, and at over 7,000 or even 8,000 won ($7.50 or $9.00 CAD) per glass (pint) in pubs.

Market entry strategies

One of the best ways for new suppliers to establish a relationship with an importer in South Korea is by attending a trade show. Trade shows are particularly impactful because South Koreans value face-to-face contacts and are not likely to respond to cold calls.

Specialty beer shops are the only place to sell craft beer. Hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores generally only sell domestic beer or large import brands (Asahi, Heineken, etc.).

South Korean consumers are seeking variety in beer and premium and international brands. This is countered by an overall trend to reduce alcohol consumption due to health concerns. Low alcohol craft beers may do well.

500ml cans are the most popular package size, followed by 330ml bottles and cans and 355ml bottles and cans. 473ml cans represent a small percentage of the market, although imported craft beers are available in this format. Bottles are still preferred by consumers for imported beer, but the acceptability of cans is increasing, particularly for craft beer.  Younger people are more likely to drink at home.

For the draft market, PubKeg and KeyKeg in 20L size are most common, though 30L are acceptable. Use of steel kegs and kegs over 30L is discouraged. Shipping rates to South Korea are favourable while shipping rates from South Korea are not, so the cost of retrieving empty steel kegs is prohibitive.

The South Korean beer market embraces claims of premium products.  Labels should use words like "premium" to promote their high quality.  Other claims such as "environmentally friendly packaging," "limited edition," "seasonal," "no additives" and "no preservatives" are helpful.

Logistics

The main port of entry for South Korea is Busan Port. Air freight is rarely used.

Contact

Ok-Jin Cho
Trade Commissioner
Embassy of Canada
21, Jeongdong-gil (Jeong-dong), Jung-gu, Seoul 100-120 Republic of Korea
Tel:  +82 2 3783-6091   
Fax:  +82 2 3783-6147
email: ok-jin.cho@international.gc.ca

Opportunities in Europe

Belgium

Market overview

Belgian beer culture is globally recognized. In fact, UNESCO recognized this culture in 2016 when it was added to the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" list. Not surprisingly, this beer culture is a source of great pride.

As of 2019 there are 340 breweries serving this population of 11.5 million people. However, most of these breweries brew what is globally recognized as Belgian beer, with a very significant portion brewed for export. Because of this, and because a love of variety from small breweries, there is room in the market for imported Canadian craft beer. Overall, Belgium imported over 2.5 million Hl of beer in 2018.

Regulations

Deposits

Deposits are not required for cans and are optional for refillable bottles. However, there is a tax on beverage containers that are not refillable. Despite being the only EU country not requiring deposits, Belgium boasts some of the highest recycling rates in the world, through blue bag collection on the street.

A pilot project is underway in Wallonia. This program aims to further improve recycling rates by rewarding collection of littered cans, but again, there are no deposit requirements.

Labelling

Beer containing over 1.2% ABV is exempt from EU requirements to list ingredients and nutritional information. However, as of March 12, 2018, the Brewers of Europe created a self-regulatory framework for the voluntary listing of ingredients. Canadian breweries are not required to comply, but there may be consumer expectations. Eighty-five per cent of beers sold in Europe have ingredients labelling.

If you choose to disclose nutritional information, the disclosure should be based on either per 100 millilitres or per portion. Sixty per cent of beers sold in Europe have caloric labelling.

Competitive pricing model

Very good, locally brewed beer can be purchased in Belgium for between €2 and €4 although more premium beers such as Trappist beers and lambic command much higher prices.

Imported beers are priced at only a slight (if any) premium over domestic beers.

Market entry strategies

As with much of the rest of the world, beer consumption is down in Belgium. Beer consumption down 19% from 2009 to 2019; down 31% from 1999 to 2019.  Having said that, as with much of the rest of the world, there is a trend away from lagers to more specialty and craft beers.

Another reason for the decline in beer consumption has been the trend toward adopting healthier lifestyles. Coincident with this, the non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic beer segments are growing.

Beer consumption has been trending toward more off-trade. While as much as two-thirds of beer sales have historically been on-trade, that proportion is now slightly less than half.

Sustainability is an important trend all over Europe. Over 70% of beer in Belgium is supplied in returnable and reusable packaging (bottles and crates). While that is obviously not practical for imported beers, any environmental certifications you have should be promoted. In addition, Canada's clean environment should be promoted in your branding.

Logistics

The Port of Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe. It will likely be the port used for logistics directly into Belgium, but beer is also easily trucked to Belgium from within the EU. Many goods are trucked to Belgium from EU member states, particularly the Netherlands, which has established itself as a shipping and logistics centre.

Contact

Charlotte Moreau
Trade Commissioner
Embassy of Canada to Belgium and Luxembourg
Avenue des Arts 58 B-1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Tel:  +32 2 741 06 16  (448-3353)
Mobile:  +32 478 70 10 58
email:  Charlotte.Moreau@international.gc.ca

Germany

Market overview

Germany has a population of about 83.7 million people and boasts the largest economy in the EU.  Germany is Canada's largest export partner in the EU (sixth, globally).

Regulations

The world-famous Reinheitsgebot does not apply to import beer. However, German beer drinkers continue to view it as a sign of purity. Beers complying with the Reinheitsgebot would be well advised to promote that fact.

Beverages contained in single-use packaging are subject to a compulsory deposit and return system under the German Packaging Act and must be marked accordingly. Your German domestic importer as the “first distributor” must collect a deposit on the sale, participate in the deposit and return system and label the packaging as being subject to the single-use deposit. A sticker showing compliance with these requirements can be pasted over an existing barcode by the importer to satisfy these requirements.

Labelling

Beer containing over 1.2% ABV is exempt from EU requirements to list ingredients and nutritional information.  However, as of March 12, 2018, the Brewers of Europe created a self-regulatory framework for the voluntary listing of ingredients. Canadian breweries are not required to comply, but there may be consumer expectation. Eighty-five per cent of beers sold in Europe have ingredient labelling.

If you choose to disclose nutritional information, the disclosure should be based on either per 100 millilitres or per portion. Sixty per cent of beers sold in Europe have caloric labelling.

Competitive pricing model

Beer can be purchased for very low prices in Germany. Private label supermarket beers can be purchased for as little as €0.28 for a 500ml can; the €0.25 can deposit is almost as much as the beer itself. International brands will sell for €0.99 to €2.29 per 500ml can.

More specialized import craft beer starts at €2 and can be as much as €5 with most being between €2.50 and €3.99.

Market entry strategies

It is no secret that Germany enjoys beer. Surprisingly, however, the volume of beer sold has been shrinking, though spending on beer is increasing.  This indicates a shift toward more expensive beers.

Pilsner, the market leading beer style, is particularly shrinking.  Instead, helles and other beers have been growing in popularity.  A handful of new German craft breweries have opened, brewing beers more of the North American craft beer style. America's Stone Brewing famously opened a brewery in Berlin. Even though that brewery has since been sold to Scotland's BrewDog, these developments evidence an interest in North American-style craft beer.

Even German hop growers are acknowledging this shift in consumer tastes.  They have been breeding and selling hops with U.S.-influenced flavours, such as Mandarina Bavaria, Huell Melon, Hallertau Blanc and Polaris.

Only about 6% of the population of the EU shops online for food and beverages, though this is growing.  Among European countries, Germany is second (to the UK) for e-commerce sales.  Alcohol is the seventh most-popular food product purchased online in Germany. Online beer sales have increased over 20% in the last year.

Online sales of food and beverage is more common among Millennials and Generation Z.  Moreover, among this group, what these online shoppers are seeking is organic, vegan, gluten free and socially responsible products or food of known and specified origin. This means there are e-commerce opportunities for imported craft beer.

myEnso is an online supermarket headquartered in Bremen, Germany. There is a Food Embassy store within a store established through cooperation among the Consulate of Canada, Berlin-based Canadian Street Food and myEnso. There is a €300 fee per year and per partner to list up to 30 products. Sales are on a commission basis (25% to 35%), but myEnso charges no fulfilment, storage, or delivery costs. There is an additional €50 per partner per month fee to participate in the Taste of Canada marketing campaign, which includes participation in the Taste of Canada website.

Amazon offers fresh (grocery) options and has a local distribution centre in Germany.  Additional shops with online opportunities include the e-commerce platforms of the following national chains:

  • REWE
  • Edeka
  • Netto
  • Kaufland
  • Lidl

Logistics

Larger volumes of beer can be shipped directly to Germany with the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven being the largest. Once imported into the EU, beer can be trucked anywhere else within the EU. Conversely, beer destined for Germany may be shipped to anywhere within the EU and trucked to Germany from there. In this case, Antwerp and Rotterdam are the largest container ports in the EU and are well set up to handle shipments from Canada.

Contact

Nora Grütters
Trade Commissioner
Consulate of Canada
Benrather Str. 8, 40213 Düsseldorf, Germany
Tel:  +49-151-1464 5281
Fax:  +49-211-172 1771
email:  nora.gruetters@international.gc.ca

Florian Robers
Trade Commissioner
Consulate of Canada
Benrather Str. 8, 40213 Düsseldorf, Germany
Tel:  +49-170-1245 630
Fax:  +49-211-172 1771
email:  florian.robers@international.gc.ca   

Netherlands

Market overview

The Netherlands is known for canals, windmills, wooden shoes and a large domestic brewer. However, since the 1970s and the formation of a beer-promoting consumer organization called "PINT," interest in craft beer has been growing. Today, there are several hundred breweries in the Netherlands (more than there are in Belgium) and a strong interest in imported craft beer.

While the beers of neighboring Belgium heavily influence the beer scene in the Netherlands, there has been recent interest in North American styles of craft beer.

Regulations

Deposits

The deposit system in the Netherlands is voluntary. Recyclable bottles are returned to retail for deposit return. Deposits are not required for cans. However, cans will become recyclable starting in January 2022.

Labelling

Beer containing over 1.2% ABV is exempt from EU requirements to list ingredients and nutritional information. However, as of March 12, 2018, the Brewers of Europe created a self-regulatory framework for the voluntary listing of ingredients. Canadian breweries are not required to comply, but there may be consumer expectation. Eighty-five per cent of beers sold in Europe have ingredients labelling. It should be noted that ingredient labelling is a good way to comply with allergens disclosure.

Your label must also include the net contents (in metric), alcohol content, batch code and drink-by date.

If you choose to disclose nutritional information, the disclosure should be based on either per 100 millilitres or per portion. Sixty per cent of beers sold in Europe have caloric labelling.

Although not mandatory, 99% of alcoholic beverages include this pregnancy label:

Competitive pricing model

Domestic lager can be purchased in the Netherlands at larger grocery retailers for €18 for 24 bottles or can. Very good, locally brewed or import craft beer can be purchased for between €2 and €3.  There are specialty beer stores at which consumers are willing to pay higher prices for unique imported beers.

Market entry strategies

The Netherlands acts as the port of entry for many goods imported into Europe. As a result, the Netherlands should be considered as part of your larger European plans. If you have an active buyer in another country in Europe, it may be relatively easy to increase your shipment and find buyers in the Netherlands.

Being so familiar with international trade, the Netherlands has many importers and distribution companies. Many of these companies are the most sophisticated in Europe when it comes to VAT compliance and acting as your fiscal representative.

In addition, there are many online stores in the Netherlands, with the highest internet use of any European Union country. Online sales of beer are growing and, again, as part of the Netherlands role as a logistics hub, there are many warehouse and fulfilment options.

Another possible market entry strategy is contract brewing. At the end of 2015, almost half of the Netherlands breweries did so on a contract basis. Beer consumers are comfortable with contract-brewed beer and many local breweries are comfortable brewing beer for others.

Belgian styles of beer are very popular, followed by American styles. Non-alcoholic beer has also grown dramatically in recent years. To date, sales of non-alcoholic beer have been dominated by the large domestic breweries, but the popularity of these beers is likely to extend to more flavourful craft beers soon.

Logistics

As previously mentioned, the Netherlands has established itself is a shipping and logistics centre for Europe. Indeed, over 300 logistics service providers are represented by the non-profit Holland International Distribution Council (HIDC). HIDC can assist not only with your Netherlands logistics, but also logistics throughout Europe, using the Netherlands as gateway.

In addition to import by sea, through Rotterdam, the largest container port in Europe, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is the second-best connected airport in the world and well set up for air freight.

Contact

Diederik Beutener
Trade Commissioner
Embassy of Canada
Sophialaan 7, the Hague, Netherlands
Tel:  +31-6 13928859
email:  Diederik.Beutener@international.gc.ca

The Nordic Countries

Market overview

Each of the Nordic countries is a small market, but collectively, they represent a good opportunity.

Denmark (population 5.7 million) enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world and Danish consumers are very open to acquainting themselves with other food cultures.

Finland (population 5.5 million) is Canada's ninth largest EU export market.  Finland has an English proficiency rate of almost 90%.

Norway (population 5.4 million) drinks imported beer (18%), with most of this made by the large, global brands. Good industry data on the size of the craft beer market does not really exist, but is estimated to be around 5%.

Sweden (population 10.4 million) is the largest market in the Nordic region. Sweden has seen a doubling of its premium beer market over the last five years.

Regulation

Denmark, Finland and Sweden are members of the EU and therefore imported beers must comply with EU labelling requirements. Beer containing over 1.2% ABV is exempt from EU requirements to list ingredients and nutritional information. However, as of March 12, 2018, the Brewers of Europe created a self-regulatory framework for the voluntary listing of ingredients. Canadian breweries are not required to comply, but there may be consumer expectation.  Eighty-five per cent of beers sold in Europe have ingredients labelling.

If you choose to disclose nutritional information, the disclosure should be based on either per 100 millilitres or per portion.  Sixty per cent of beers sold in Europe have caloric labelling.

Labelling requirements in Norway, which is not an EU country, are discussed below.

Denmark

Denmark is a member of the EU and imported beers must therefore comply with all EU labelling requirements.

Each bottle or can of beer must display a recycling symbol, which is unique to Denmark. These can be printed labels (referred to as "primary marking"), or can be affixed by strip label by the importer (referred to as "secondary marking").  Primary marking can only be used by breweries and importers registered with Dansk Retursystem (which required providing a bank guarantee). For non-registered products, strip labels are purchased from Dansk Retursystem to affix to your bottles or cans. This is to collect the correct deposit and ensure these products are not sold outside of Denmark, so each product label must have a unique barcode. There are size and positioning requirements for the recycling symbol and the barcode, so work with your importer to ensure compliance.

Finland

The retail sale of alcohol over 5.5% ABV is through the state-owned monopoly, Alko. Alcohol below 5.5% ABV has been allowed to be sold in other retailers since January 2018. Sixty per cent of alcoholic beverages in Finland are now purchased at a grocery store.

Mandatory information on consumer products in Finland must appear in both Finnish and Swedish.  This
includes the product name, manufacturer, country of origin and the amount of contents (in metric).

Finland has very high alcohol taxes.  On top of this, there is a 24% value added tax.  Overall, Finland has the second highest alcohol taxes in the EU.

Norway

As with the other Nordic countries, alcohol is highly regulated in Norway, including its import. Importers must be licensed under the Alcohol Act.

The retail sale of alcohol over 4.75% ABV is through the state-owned monopoly, Vinmonopolet.

Alcohol is heavily taxed on a scale according to ABV.

Labels on beer must disclose the following:

  • alcohol content
  • container volume
  • best before date
  • ingredients in a Scandinavian language (not necessarily Norwegian)
  • any of a list of allergens required to be highlighted
  • different types of gluten need to be marked and highlighted separately such as barley, wheat and oats

Contact information for the importer is also required on the beer label, although that may be the importer into Sweden or Denmark with no re-labelling of the importer in Norway.

There is a general prohibition on alcohol advertising.

Sweden

The retail sale of alcohol over 3.5% ABV is through the state-owned monopoly, Systembolaget.

Sweden is a member of the EU and imported beers must therefore comply with all EU labelling requirements. In addition, certain words need to be in Swedish and printed on the label. These include:

  • words relating to allergens, including barley and wheat
  • "starköl," indicating the product is beer
  • the best before date

The label must also display the Sweden recycling symbol, which must be placed next to the bar code. The minimum size of the recycling symbol is 10x15 mm.

The name of the EU importer must also be on the label.

Advertising of alcohol on television and radio is prohibited, but is permitted on printed media, as long as it contains is no more than 15% ABV.

Sweden has the highest alcohol taxes in the EU.

Competitive pricing model

Denmark

Entry level craft beer sells for approximately 10DKK (approximately $2.00 CAD) per 330ml.  Singles of craft beer, which are preferred over four- or six-packs, may be as high as 30DKK (approximately $6.00 CAD) with specialty beers commanding higher prices.

Finland

A bottle of craft beer at Finland's alcohol retailer, Alko, will vary between €4 and €6 for a 330ml bottle or 355ml can. Larger format 440ml, 473ml or 500ml cans range from €3 to €8.

Norway

In Norway, entry-level craft beer retails for about 50NOK (approximately $7.50 CAD) for a 330ml bottle.  Norway does love premium products and there are limited sales of beers as much as 160NOK (approximately $24 CAD) for a 375ml bottle. Obviously, the market for such premium products is limited, but the market does accept such beers and there are multiple SKUs in the range of 350NOK (approximately $52 CAD) for a 750ml bottle.

Sweden

For a 330ml bottle or 355ml can, craft beer in Sweden ranges from 25SEK (approximately $3.75 CAD) to 100SEK (approximately $15 CAD) for rare and special brews. The vast majority of craft beers at Systembolaget are on the lower end of that range.

Market entry strategies

Denmark

It is rare for retailers in Denmark, even the large chains, to import for themselves. Thus, it will be important to have a third-party import partner.

Although there is a slow move to cans, for the most part, particularly in higher-volume supermarket chains, bottles remain the container of choice for craft beer.

Denmark is very liberal minded and has few restrictions on branding. In fact, while many countries would prohibit a beer label with Santa Claus on it as enticing to children, such labels are common in Denmark. The Danish love to celebrate all holidays with unique seasonal products. The use of models who may appear to be under 25 years of age however would violate the Alcohol Advertising Board guidelines.

In addition to the large supermarket chains, there are quite a number of specialty retailers, many of which can achieve respectable sales volume through e-commerce sites.

Finland

The availability of alcohol in Finland is regulated through strict tender procedures through Alko, the state alcohol monopoly. There are strict laws, so breweries are advised to work with a local import partner.

Norway

Beer with less 4.75% ABV can be sold in supermarkets and this is where most beer (approximately 83%) is sold. Otherwise, beer is sold through Vinmonopolet, the state alcohol monopoly. Vinmonopolet will issue tenders for beer to which importers can apply. Beers are then chosen by blind tasting. Outside of the tender process, importers can list products at Vinmonopolet, but volumes tend to be very small.  Since advertising of alcohol is prohibited, merely listing products with Vinmonopolet without the support of the monopoly (that will actively push its tendered products) is unlikely to be a successful strategy.

As with the other Nordic countries, breweries are advised to work with a local import partner to ensure compliance with the myriad of legal restrictions.

Sweden

The availability of alcohol in Sweden is regulated through strict tender procedures through Systembolaget, the state alcohol monopoly. Even so, only locally registered bidders may participate, so foreign breweries are required to work with an import partner.

Logistics

Given the relatively small size of the markets in the Nordic countries, it may be advisable to work with a partner that can selling multiple markets for shipping efficiency.  Denmark, Finland and Sweden are members of the EU, which makes logistics between them easy once your beer has entered the EU.

Denmark

The primary shipping ports in Denmark are Aarhus and Copenhagen.

Finland

The primary shipping ports in Finland are HaminaKotka and Helsinki.

Norway

The primary shipping port in Norway is Oslo.

Sweden

The primary shipping ports in Sweden are Stockholm and Gothenburg.

Contact

Jakob Schmidt
Embassy of Canada, Kingdom of Denmark
Kristen Bernikowsgade 1
1105 Copenhagen K., Denmark
Tel:  +45 21460405
e-mail:  jakob.schmidt@interntaional.gc.ca

Nina Tiittanen
Trade Commissioner Assistant
Pohjoisesplanadi 25 B
P.O. Box / BP 779, FI-00101, Helsinki, Finland
Tel:  +358 9 228 530
e-mail:  Nina.Tiitanen@international.gc.ca

Dan Bristow
Senior Trade Commissioner
The Embassy of Canada to Norway
Wergelandsveien 7, 0244 Oslo, Norway
Tel:  +47 22 99 53 34
e-mail:  dan.bristow@international.gc.ca

Maria Stenberg
Trade Commissioner
The Embassy of Canada to Sweden
Klarabergsgatan 23, P.O. Box 16129, S-103 23, Stockholm, Sweden
Tel:  +46 8 453 3020
Fax:  +46 8 453 3016
email:  Maria.Stenberg@international.gc.ca

The United Kingdom

Market overview

The United Kingdom is home to 67 million people and no longer part of the European Union. Forty-eight per cent of UK consumers drank beer in 2019. Nevertheless, despite a centuries-old pub culture, beer volumes have been stagnant or declining. As is a common theme with many other countries, while beer volumes may be down, beer sales are up, evidencing premiumization.

Thanks to the efforts of CAMRA (consumer group) and SIBA (trade group), the UK has never been dominated by merely two lager-brewing manufacturers like much of the rest of the world.  This is notwithstanding the consolidation efforts of some of the larger players.

As a result, consumers like small brewers and have valued independence for longer than most of the world. Having said that, for decades, small breweries focussed on cask ale and it has only been relatively recently that attention has turned to hop-forward, higher-alcohol, North American-style craft beer. In 2019, craft beer grew by 15.7% while cask ale shrank by 8.2%.

A quick note on nomenclature: in the UK, "beer" means "ale."  While Canadians use "beer" as an umbrella term encompassing both ale and lager, in the UK, lager should be identified as such with "beer" reserved for ale.

Regulations

Beer duty

The amount of UK beer duty depends on the beer's strength, based on ABV.

Beer duty based on beer strength in the UK
Strength (ABV)Beer Duty rate per litre for each % of alcohol
More than 1.2%, up to 2.8%8.42 pence
More than 2.8%, up to 7.5%19.08 pence
More than 7.5%24.77 pence
Labelling

Beer containing over 1.2% ABV is exempt from requirement to list ingredients and nutritional information. However, as of March 12, 2018, the Brewers of Europe created a self-regulatory framework for the voluntary listing of ingredients. Canadian breweries are not required to comply, but there may be consumer expectation. Eighty-five percent of beers sold in Europe have ingredients labelling.

If you choose to disclose nutritional information, the disclosure should be based on either per 100 millilitres or per portion. Sixty percent of beers sold in Europe have caloric labelling.

Competitive pricing model

Forty-five per cent of beer drinkers surveyed say they are happy to pay more for craft beer.

At retail, craft beer at supermarkets can be purchased for less than £2 per can, though other premium craft beers may be over £3.50.  At more specialized retail shops, craft beer generally ranges from £2.50 all the way up to £15 for highly specialized barrel aged imports.

In pubs, craft beer generally ranges between £4 and £6.  Some national pub chain groups will sell pints for less than £1.50.

Given this, it is important to find the right import partner who will position your beer appropriately.

Market entry strategies

Thirty-five per cent of craft beer drinkers in the UK drink beer from an international brewer. The UK is a market that welcomes imports.  Due to the strong beer culture where people feel comfortable drinking whatever they want to drink (as opposed to following a trend), the UK is one of the few export markets where we find online beer reviews to be less important, with only 7% of beer drinkers reporting that they choose a beer based on online reviews.

The two largest barriers to imported craft beer are finally crumbling. First, the uniquely British tied-house system is shrinking. While it is true that pubs continue to close in the UK, independent free-of-tie pubs are growing. Second, off-premises consumption of beer is growing.

SIBA reports that with its membership (domestic brewers), freetrade pubs are essential. Ten times more beer is sold through freehouses than tied outlets.

With a fractured marketplace, it will be important to partner with a national or regional wholesaler.  Beer drinkers in the UK are savvy. Seventy per cent of beer drinkers have said they were served a stale or off pint, while 39% of beer drinkers have stated that they have avoided a brand because they had a bad pint.  An almost equal number, 37%, have told their friends about a bad pint. With a knowledgeable consumer, quick turnover to ensure fresh product will be key to succeeding in this market.

A survey of beer drinkers in the UK revealed that 50% valued independence in craft beer. Having an independence seal on your packaging, such as the Canadian Craft Brewers Association's Independent Craft Seal of Authenticity™ will be beneficial.

As for beer styles, remember that the UK is where the phrase "session beer" comes from. A 5% ABV beer is considered strong. Certainly, higher ABV beers can be and are sold, but most beers UK residents drink in quantity are around 3.5% ABV.

No and low-alcohol beers are growing in popularity. Sales nearly quadrupled from 2017 to 2019 to 3% market share.

Pale ales and IPA constitute 60% of the craft beer market. Stout and porter market share has varied between 11% and 15% in recent years, with growth occurring primarily in the "imperial" portion of the market segment. Sour beers, while growing, are doing so at a slower pace than the rest of the world.  They remain less than 7% of the craft beer market. While lager is a large portion of the overall market in the UK, lager's share of the craft market remains small (between 5% and 6%).

When it comes to packaging, cans reign supreme in the UK with the 440ml can being the size of choice having supplanted the previously popular 330ml can in just a couple of years. The historically ubiquitous 500ml bottle is all but dead.

Nearly one third of the population of the UK shops online for food and beverages. Among European countries, the UK is first for e-commerce food and grocery sales and in the UK, alcohol is the third most-popular food product purchased online.

Online sales of food and beverage is more common among Millennials and Generation Z.  Moreover, among this group, what these online shoppers are seeking is organic, vegan, gluten free and socially responsible products or food of known and specified origin.  This means there are e-commerce opportunities for craft beer.

John Lewis, Tesco, Sainsbury's, ASDA and Ocado all offer beer in their online shops and a recent development is for these large retailers to offer beers from small craft breweries.

Lastly, Amazon offers fresh (grocery) options and has a central distribution centre in the UK.

Logistics

There are five major seaports in the UK:

  • the Port of Felixstowe (in Suffolk)
  • Southampton
  • London
  • Immingham
  • Liverpool (which is the most centrally located port in the UK)

Of course, the UK is composed of two large islands (and several smaller ones), so there are many ports, one of which may be closer to your ultimate destination.

Contact

Emma Finn
Trade Commissioner
High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom
Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London SW1Y 5BJ
Tel:  +44 (0)7833 238904
email:  Emma.Finn@interntaional.gc.ca

Opportunities in the United States of America

Market overview

The United States is probably the largest craft beer market in the world. Moreover, luckily for Canadian craft breweries, the United States is Canada's largest export market. Despite this, Canada is the United States' seventh most important source of import beer.

Despite its ubiquity, craft beer in the United States continues to grow at a slow pace (3.6% in 2019) while the overall beer market shrinks (-1.6% in 2019), according to the Brewers Association. That same association reports that craft beer was 13.6% of beer volume and over 25% of beer dollars in 2019.

While the United States craft beer market is well served by over 8,000 domestic brewers, many of these have very limited distribution.  In addition, with the craft beer lover always seeking new products, there are opportunities for Canadian breweries, particularly those with good online ratings.  Indeed, the Brewers Association reports that imported beer grew by 1.8% in 2019.

On a volume basis, off-trade sales are approximately triple on-trade sales.  Typically, the price of beer on-trade is triple the price of beer off-trade.  In the craft beer segment, where consumers are seeking many types of beer at more affordable prices, off-trade is more important than for mass-market beers.

Regulations

The traditional three-tier system of distribution in use in much of the United States since the repeal of Prohibition requires breweries to sell to distributors/wholesalers that in turn sell to the retail tier of stores, restaurants and bars. The three-tier system is sacrosanct, so unless you plan to open a brewery in the United States (as a couple of Canadian breweries have done), you will require the services of an importer and a distributor. Your American partners will keep you aware of the regulations relating to the sale and distribution of alcohol, which vary from state to state and from product to product (beer, wine, cider and spirits are regulated differently in many states).

Many states require distribution exclusivity, meaning that a product can only be sold by one distributor in a region. In addition, every state other than Alaska and Hawaii has some form of "franchise" law that limits the ability of a brewery to terminate or change a distribution agreement. The joke in the craft beer industry is that signing with a distributor is stronger than getting married, since, "you can always get out of a marriage."  The laws governing these contracts are generally written heavily in favour of the distributors and provide little recourse or negotiating power to the breweries. It is essential, therefore, that you complete comprehensive due diligence on your distribution partners.

The United States imposes a federal excise tax on beer (ranging from $0.11 to $0.58 per gallon based on production, location, and quantity) and the states (and the District of Columbia) impose further taxes on beer.

All food manufacturers, including breweries, selling in their products in the United States must be registered with the United States Food and Drug Administration. This is a relatively straightforward process and registration lasts for two years, but it does require having an importer of record (with a United States address). In addition, either your brewery or your United States import partner must be registered with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Many states also have registration requirements.  There are also annual filing reporting requirements at the federal and state levels.  A good import partner will help with these, but you will need to complete these if you choose to enter the market on your own.

Beer labels must be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and issued a Certificate of Label Approval/Exemption (COLA). In order to receive one, labels must include the Surgeon General's warning, country of origin and size in imperial measurements.  Compliance with these label requirements can be by affixing a strip label. Certain beers, particularly those made with alternative grains or without hops, are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States Food and Drug Administration and are subject to additional requirements. Your importer should assist you with label compliance and with obtaining a COLA.

Competitive pricing model

Canadian beer tends to be the most expensive beer in the United States market. This is because Canadian breweries tend to be significantly smaller in scale than the regional players in craft beer. Once margins for the importer and distributor are added, Canadian beer is usually the most expensive beer in a distributor’s portfolio.

Market entry strategies

The United States craft beer market is highly competitive. Breweries should expect to invest significant resources into growing this market and even so, will meet significant resistance. Indeed, some Canadian breweries that have attempted to enter the market in the past and then abandoned the market have left a bad taste in some distributors' mouths and given Canadian breweries a bad reputation.

Thus, in order to succeed in this market, it is important to:

  • have a good product with a long shelf life
  • have a unique product
  • have good packaging that will stand out on a crowded shelf
  • have an interesting story or value proposition
  • have good online ratings

Breweries entering the United States market should expect to spend some time in the market promoting the brand.

Logistics

The Unites States is, by far, Canada's largest trading partner. Raw materials and finished good travel daily over the Canada-U.S. border so logistics will not generally be a problem, even if you are shipping less than full containers or less than full truckloads. Many freight forwarders are in the business of consolidating shipments, so rates are competitive. Having said that, some trucking routes carry more traffic than others, so routes can vary in cost (by multiples) for equal amounts of beer.

Lastly, be aware the most U.S. buyers use different shipping terms from those used elsewhere, particularly when dealing with Canadian sellers. Incoterms are the international standard, but most U.S.-Canada trade continues to use Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) terminology. Some of these terms are nominally identical, but legally different, so it is important to understand what terms are used and mean.

California

Market overview

Two facts are required to understand the opportunity for Canadian craft beer in California. First, California has the highest consumption of craft beer per capita. Second, while California has the highest absolute number of breweries of any state, it does not have the highest number of breweries per capita.  This margin between supply and demand makes California a great opportunity.

Regulations

Under California's franchise laws, distribution agreements must be in writing and filed with the State.  A brewery may not terminate a distributor for failure to meet a sales goal if it is deemed that the sales goal was not reasonable under prevailing market conditions. Distributors can transfer distribution rights with the brewery's consent, but if that consent is unreasonably withheld, the brewery can be held liable for damages.

California has the 25th highest beer excise rate in the United States.

Market entry strategies

California is home to some of the largest craft brewers in the world, so there will be pricing pressure. It has a sophisticated consumer base and sophisticated store buyers. Having a comprehensive market entry plan will be essential to success.

Contact

Consulate General of Canada
550 S. Hope Street, 9th Fl.
Los Angeles, California, 90071, United States
Email: cal.info@international.gc.ca

Consulate of Canada
402 W. Broadway, 4th Floor
San Diego, California 92101, United States
email: sndgo-td@international.gc.ca

Florida

Market overview

Florida ranks 44th in the United States for breweries per capita. Therefore, Floridian craft beer drinkers often drink out-of-state and imported brands.

Regulations

Distribution agreements in Florida must be in writing and provide for exclusive territories. Agreements can only be terminated after 90 days of notice and can only be for good cause. During the 90-day notice period, the distributor can cure any deficiencies. Good cause is a violation of a reasonable and material term of the agreement.

Florida has the eighth highest beer excise tax rate in the United States.

Market entry strategies

In addition to working with a local importer and distribution company, Florida is a market where at least one Canadian craft brewery was able to enter the market with its own staff. Hamilton, Ontario's Collective Arts Brewing entered Florida in 2018 with a "launch tour." Events were held in Miami, Tampa and Orlando featuring local bands and using the work of local artists on the can labels.

While not every brewery can launch with such fanfare, the U.S. craft beer market is generally competitive. Canadian breweries should look to Collective Arts Brewing's success and understand that American markets require effort.

Contact

Matthew C Waldron
Trade Commissioner
Consulate General of Canada
#1600, 200 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, Florida 33131, United States
Tel: (305) 579-1610
email: Matthew.Waldron@international.gc.ca

Illinois

Market overview

According the Brewers Association, in 2019, Illinois had 284 breweries, ranking it the 30th state in terms of breweries per capita. The vast majority of the population of Illinois lives in the greater Chicago area.  This density of market, together with the fact that Chicago is a major logistics hub, may make Illinois a viable market for Canadian breweries.

However, there are over 200 breweries in the Chicago area. As a result, competition is fierce and consumers are price sensitive.  A 6-pack of 12-ounce cans of craft beer can retail for as little as USD $10.  A 30-pack of domestic beer can be purchased for as little as USD $15. While these domestic lagers are not square competition for craft beer, that pricing does provide an anchor against which other beer prices are compared.

Regulations

Under Illinois franchise laws, a written contract is required and exclusive territories are permitted.  Termination must be for good cause, following good faith efforts to resolve disagreements. Good cause includes a failure to comply with essential and reasonable requirements of the franchise agreement that are consistent with law. Termination requires 90 days of notice during which the distributor can cure any deficiency. If a brewery represents less than 10% of a distributor's business, the brewery can terminate upon payment of reasonable compensation to the distributor.

Illinois has the 23rd highest beer excise rate in the United States.

Market entry strategies

There are only a handful of beer distributors. A few smaller, niche distributors have recently ceased operations because of competitive pressures. These distributors are not generally involved in product support and instead should be thought of as distribution fulfillment. Thus, you will require an on-the-ground sales team, either that of an importer, or your own.

Because the Chicago craft beer market is well served by local, regional and national players, breweries should focus on products that are unique.

Contact

Chris Bigall
Trade Commissioner
Consulate General of Canada
180 North Stetson Avenue, Suite 2400
Chicago, Illinois 60601, United States
Tel: (312) 616-1860
email: chris.bigall@international.gc.ca

Minnesota

Market overview

Minnesota has the 14th most breweries per capita, including some regional players. Nevertheless, the proximity to Canada, and in particular Manitoba and western Ontario, means there are opportunities for Canadian breweries.

Regulations

Under Minnesota's franchise laws, distribution agreements must be in writing and provide for exclusive territories.  Such agreements can only be terminated after 90 days of notice and for good cause. Good cause does not include a change in brewery ownership, but does include the distributor's loss of license, bankruptcy or "failure to substantially comply with reasonable and material terms of the franchise agreement."  The distributor has the opportunity to cure any deficiency during the 90-day notice period.

Minnesota has the 35th highest beer excise rate in the United States.

Market entry strategies

There are only a handful of regional breweries in Minnesota, so the remainder are small, local players.  As a result, the market is receptive to many brands. Indeed, Kenora, Ontario-based Lake of the Woods Brewing Company was able to leverage off its brand and enter the U.S. market by building a brewery in Warroad, Minnesota, on the shore of Lake of the Woods.

Of course, a less ambitious approach of entering the market, but working with local importers and distributors is also possible.

Contact

Christina Connelly
Trade Commissioner
The 701 Building, 9th Floor
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 900
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415-1899, United States
Tel: (612) 333-4641
email: Christina.Connelly@international.gc.ca

Ohio

Market overview

According to the Brewers Association, Ohio is right in the middle of the ranking, coming in 26th position for number of breweries per capita.  A number of these breweries are larger, regional players, so despite being 26th for breweries per capita, it consistently ranks much higher for craft beer production – typically in the top five.

Ohio's population of almost 12 million people is distributed broadly among many major cities. This provides many centres with sufficient population of craft beer lovers to achieve respectable sales through a single distributor.

Regulations

Under Ohio's franchise laws, agreements must be in writing and provide for exclusive territories. These agreements must be filed with the State. Distributors must act in good faith and represent the brewery in a manner that protects the brewery's reputation and trade name. Distribution agreements can only be terminated "in good faith and for just cause." Even so, 60 days of notice must be given.

Ohio has the 25th highest beer excise rate in the United States.

Market entry strategies

There is at least one Ohio-based beer distributor working with Canadian craft beer brands, primarily from Ontario. A marketing plan is essential for success in this competitive market. In Ohio, beer can be sold to specialty beer stores, as well as convenience stores and grocery stores. These larger chain operations have sophisticated purchasing programs and expectations. Prepare for those expectations.

Contact

Brittany Foley
Trade Commissioner
Suite 1100
600 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI
48243-1798, United States
Tel: (313) 567-2340
email: Brittany.foley@international.gc.ca

Texas

Market overview

According to the Brewers Association, in 2019, Texas ranked as the 47th state for breweries per capita.  This is, in part, because of the size of Texas' population, but suffice it to say, there are opportunities for good Canadian beer in Texas.

Regulations

The rights of beer distributors in Texas are notoriously strong. Agreements must be in writing and provide for exclusive territories. These agreements must be filed with the State. Such agreements can only be terminated for good cause, which is a "failure to substantially comply with an essential, reasonable, and commercially acceptable term of the agreement."  Even so, 90 days of notice must be given, during which time the distributor has the right to cure any deficiency.

Texas has the 27th highest beer excise rate in the United States.

Market entry strategies

Texas consumers are knowledgeable, passionate and opinionated. Texas is patriotic state, and they support Texas companies. Success for a Canadian craft brewery will depend on its ability to offer something superior or unique.

As in the rest of the USA, the three-tier system is very much enforced in Texas. You will require the services of a distributor. Also, much of specialty beer sales are through large chain buyers. Therefore, there will be expectations for a strong marketing plan.

A distributor will also be essential for ensuring compliance with Texas' myriad of alcohol regulations. Texas has dry counties, dates and times during which alcohol cannot be sold, and restrictions on marketing activities. A local partner will help you stay on the right side of these regulations.

Contact

Laura Aune
Trade Commissioner
The Consulate General of Canada
500 N. Akard Street
Suite 2900
Dallas, Texas 75201, United States
Tel: (214) 922-9806
email: infocentre.dallas@international.gc.ca

Key contacts

Canadian Trade Commissioner Service

Janet Dorozynski, Ph.D. Dip WSET, WSET® Certified Educator
Trade Commissioner and Sector Lead for Canadian Wine, Beer and Spirits
Trade Sectors Bureau (BBI)
Tel: 613-222-0242
e-mail: janet.dorozynski@international.gc.ca

Prairies and Northwest Territories Regional Office
Tracy Diehl
Regional Director
Suite 418, East Tower, 220 4th Avenue S.E.
Calgary, Alberta T2G 4X3
Tel: 403-292-6409
e-mail: tracy.diehl@international.gc.ca

Samuel Boateng
Trade Commissioner
Agriculture and processed foods, Wine, beer, and spirits
e-mail: Samuel.Boateng@international.gc.ca

Manitoba & Saskatchewan Regional Office (Saskatchewan)
Kimberly Brown
Trade Commissioner
Tel: 1-306-261-5999
e-mail: kimberly.brown@international.gc.ca

Manitoba & Saskatchewan Regional Office (Manitoba)
Brad Havixbeck
Trade Commissioner
Tel: 1-204-583-5124
e-mail: brad.havixbeck@international.gc.ca

Federal government resources

Canada Tariff Finder

The Canada Tariff Finder provides up-to-date custom tariff information for countries with which Canada has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). It gives the current tariff rate for the specific good being searched as well as for subsequent years, when available.

Benefits Finder

The Benefits Finder is a tool that can help you find Benefits and Services that you may be eligible to receive.

Export Development Canada

Export Development Canada (EDC) is a Crown corporation that provides Canadian companies with access to working capital, financing and risk mitigation through insurance that lowers the risk of doing business abroad.

Business Development Bank

The bank for Canadian entrepreneurs, BDC offers financing, investment and advisory services.

Industry trade groups

Beer Canada

Luke Chapman
Interim President
45 O'Connor Street, Suite 650
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1A4
e-mail: lchapman@beercanada.com

Dana Miller
Director, Communications and Engagement
45 O'Connor Street, Suite 650
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1A4
Tel: 604-679-4970
e-mail: dmiller@beercanada.com

Canadian Craft Brewers Association

Rick Dalmazzi
Executive Director
1400 - 340 Albert St.
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7Y6
e-mail: rick.dalmazzi@ccba-ambc.org

Logistics Resources

Funding Resources

CanExport SME Program

Looking to grow your business globally? Apply online for up to $75,000 in CanExport SMEs funding to cover up to 75% of your international market development activities. Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may choose up to (5) export markets to target, where your company has no or minimal business. We are committed to provide a decision within 60 business days.

Business Scale up and Productivity

BSP supports high-growth businesses that are scaling up and producing innovative goods, services or technologies. It offers interest free repayable funding to incorporated businesses.

Alberta Export Expansion Program

The Alberta Export Expansion Program provides funding support to Alberta small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), municipalities, industry associations, Indigenous communities and economic development organizations promoting Alberta exports through:

  • outbound international business travel
  • bringing international buyers to Alberta

Trade Accelerator Program

Major food and beverage trade shows

For up-to-date information, be sure to visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada online.

AAFC flagship shows:

For more information on AAFC’s Flagship Canada Pavilion trade events, visit the Agriculture and Food Trade Show Service page.

Flagship shows include:

  • SIAL Paris
  • China Fisheries and Seafood Expo
  • Seoul Food and Hotel
  • Food and Hotel China
  •  Gulfood
  • Food and Hotel Asia
  • FoodEx Japan
  • Seafood Expo Global
  • Anuga

Annex 1

Background and prep for a My CFIA Party Profile and SFCR License Request

Make sure you have the following information ready when you sign up:

  • Business number: Sole proprietorships, corporations or partnerships can use their 9-digit business number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Legal business name:  You need to enter your Legal Business Name when signing up for My CFIA. This may differ from your operating name. The CFIA will use your legal business name to validate your My CFIA account, which must happen before an SFC licence or other permission can be issued to your business. You can find your legal business name on any federal or provincial document of business registration, certificates of incorporation or partnership, and official tax documents such as your T2 Corporation Income Tax Return.
  • Proof of authority form: This form provides the name of your business' profile authority and must be submitted when you sign up. The form must be signed by a current owner, partner, director or company officer of the business associated to the profile.  The name of the signing authority must also appear on a valid proof of business document associated to that business. Internet Explorer or Safari should be used when accessing CFIA forms.  These forms are not optimized for other browsers, such as Google Chrome.
  • Office addresses:  The address where records of regulated activities are kept. This address must be provided in the profile.
  • Billing addresses:  The address where the CFIA will send invoices and/or billing communications.
  • Physical addresses:  The addresses of all establishments.
  • Billing account number:  If you have a CFIA billing account number, you can enter it into My CFIA.  You can leave this field empty if you will be paying by credit card. (Your SFC Licence will cost $250)

Choose and assign contacts

When creating a party profile, you will be required to designate one or more individuals in the roles described below. You may need to consult internally within your company before deciding which individuals to assign to these roles.

  • Profile authority: Accountable for all information, records, requests, and users assigned to a party profile. The profile authority may be accountable for more than one party profile and may also act as profile manager.
  • Profile manager: Authorized by the profile authority to create and manage the profile, invite other users, and to conduct business online with the CFIA on behalf of the business.
  • Party contact(s): Can submit service requests on behalf of the business but cannot edit party profile information. Party contacts can be added at any point in time by the profile authority or profile manager and are not necessary when you sign up.
  • Emergency contact: The person that the CFIA should call first if something requires attention outside of normal business hours. This contact does not need to be signed up with My CFIA.
  • Regulatory contact: An individual whom the CFIA may contact to arrange inspection activities, provide inspection findings or work with on inspection-related issues during regular business hours. This contact does not need to be signed up with My CFIA.

The same person can be designated in more than one role.  For example, the profile manager can also be the profile authority and the emergency contact.

Single party profile

A single party profile is most suited to businesses that want to manage all business interactions with the CFIA through a head office or a single location.

With a single party profile, your business will be able to assign a profile manager and invite other party contacts, such as employees or brokers, to sign on to the profile.  All party contacts will be able to view and submit requests on behalf of your business.

Keep in mind

If you want to have one licence for your entire business, you will need to have one party profile for your entire business.  You cannot apply for one licence for your entire business using multiple party profiles.

Before determining the licensing structure (single or multiple) that fits your business needs, consider the following: (please use single party profile)

  • you must pay a fee for each licence you request
  • you must prepare, maintain, and implement a preventive control plan for each licence you hold
  • if you prepare food for export, you should only have one licence to prepare food at an establishment

Once you have the required documents, go to the My CFIA site and sign in to your account.
Once you have successfully signed up for your Party Profile, log out to allow CFIA to validate your account. This usually takes one or two days.

Check back into your account to see if your Party Profile (your business) has been validated. If so, you can now put in a New Service Request (to apply for your Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) License).

Once you have completed your sign up for a Contact Profile and a Party Profile within your My CFIA account, you can apply for your SFC Licence.

Additional Information:

How to manage your account once it is set up.

Annex 2

[Insert Brewery Logo and Name]

Preventive control plan

Revision 0 [Insert date]

Product identification

Product name and weight / volumeBeer (355mL, 473mL, 341mL)
Type of productReady to drink
Important food safety characteristicspH = 4 – 4.5
Alcohol by volume % = 3.0% - 11.9%
AllergensWheat
Restricted ingredientsNone
Food processing stepsBeer: Receive incoming materials, ambient storage, packaging material storage, water filtration, weighing, milling, mashing and heating, lautering, boiling, cooling, fermentation, cooling, filtration, brite tank, cooling, carbonation, bottle or can filling, capping / seaming, filled package inspection, labeling / coding, case packaging, palletizing, room temperature storage, shipping
PackagingBeer is packaged in glass 341mL bottles or aluminum 355mL or 473mL cans. Glass bottles are packed in corrugated boxes, cans are packed in corrugated flats.
Product storageRoom temperature storage in a dry and cool area. Beers are shipped at ambient temperatures in a clean truck
Shelf lifeBeer shelf life is four months at room temperature. Refrigerate after opening and use within 24 hours.
Product lot codingThe product packaging date (or manufacture date) is printed on the bottom of the cans, or on the neck of the glass bottle
ConsumerGovernment regulations apply – ready to drink for the general population (18 years old or older depending on jurisdiction for beer)
Handling safety measuresStorage of the product at high temperatures will decrease shelf life. Storage and handling instructions are on the label (keep refrigerated)
Sales locationsGovernment sales provisions apply for beer – licensed retailers and restaurants.
Information on product labelIndividual label contains information such as product name, volume, manufacture date, alcohol content, ingredients, manufacturing company name, address, and contact information.
Corrugated flats contain no such information.

Process flow – beer

  1. Receive incoming materials
  2. Water filtration, preparation, fill hot liquor tank
  3. Weighing bulk and specialty malts
  4. Milling
  5. Mashing and heating
  6. Lautering
  7. Boiling – bittering/dual purpose hop addition
  8. Whirpool – aroma/dual purpose hop addition
  9. Cooling – heat exchanger, and wort aeration
  10. Fermentation – yeast addition
  11. Cooling
  12. Dryhop addition
  13. Fining
  14. Filtration and bright tank transfer
  15. Cooling and carbonation
  16. Packaging - see Bottle or Can Process Flow Diagram

Diagram of process flow - beer

Process flow – bottling

  1. Receive incoming materials
  2. Bottling machine setup (air, water, C02, electrical connections)
  3. Sanitizing rinse (CIP)
  4. Cold water rise
  5. D0 and C02 test and verification
  6. Product line connection to brite tank
  7. Load bottles
  8. Bottle rinse
  9. Bottle C02 evacuation of pre-purge
  10. Filling
  11. Capping
  12. Exterior water rinse
  13. Labelling/coding
  14. Case packing and sealing
  15. Palletizing and wrapping
  16. Finished product storage and warehousing

Diagram of process flow - bottling

Process flow – canning

  1. Receive incoming materials
  2. Canning machine setup (air, water, C02, electrical connections)
  3. Sanitizing rinse (CIP)
  4. Product line connection to brite tank
  5. DO and C02 test and verification
  6. Cold water rinse
  7. Can depalletizing
  8. Can rinse
  9. Product date coding and batch identification
  10. Can C02 evacuation or pre-purge
  11. Filling
  12. Seaming
  13. Exterior water rinse and air drying
  14. Handle application
  15. Case packing
  16. Palletizing and wrapping
  17. Finished product storage and warehousing

Diagram of process flow– canning

Incoming materials

IngredientsBeer: Malted barley, wheat malt, hops, yeast, stabilizing agent (Fermcap S), water, raspberries, fining agent (biofine), lactic acid
Food contact processing aid materialsFilter media (Dicalite Speedplus) cellulose fibre, oxygen gas, carbon dioxide gas, water, hot water, compressed air
Food contact packaging materialsGlass bottles, aluminum cans, metal bottle caps, can ends
Non-food contact packaging materialsBottle labels, can sleeves, hot melt glue, ink, corrugated boxes, corrugated flats, 4 pack or 6 pack plastic PakTech handles, wood pallets, pallet wrap
Chemicals (hand washing, sanitation, and maintenanceHand soap, AC Special, Liquid Super Klenz, Drysan Duo, Liquid Spearhead, Oxonia Active, Foam Force, Regain, Boost FT, food grade silicone-based lubricant

Maintenance and operation of establishment

Sanitation, pest control, and non-food agents

SFCR
Section
RequirementJustification
50SanitationThe brewery keeps cleaning records – which are recorded on packaging sheets and are to be completed at the beginning and end of each run per SOP.
51Animal and pest controlPest control is currently being performed by a 3rd party
(Name of 3rd Party) who maintain their own records which the brewery is free to reference.
52Non-food agentsChemical handling training is performed by the supplier (Name of Supplier) as part of employee initial training and is documented in each employee’s personnel file. In addition, the brewery maintains a binder of the most
recent SDS for all chemicals used in the building.

Conveyances and equipment

SFCR
Section
RequirementJustification
53Conveyances and Equipment used for food-Refer to can line maintenance manual – rinser conveyances are made of stainless steel, the rest are EPDM and accessible for sanitation
-Refer to brewery preventative maintenance history

Conditions of the facility

SFCR
Section
RequirementJustification
57Interior of facility (building) or conveyanceBuilding is of sanitary design – concrete floors in production areas cleaned daily and sealed twice yearly and with adequate drainage; verified during quarterly health and safety audit. Exterior doors kept closed when not in use.
59MovementAccess to production areas is controlled by keypad
locks with the codes changed every three months.
63LightingLED light bulbs are installed throughout facility.
64Ventilation systemAir handler provides sufficient air exchange and is
under service contract – records are kept.
65Temperature and
humidity
Refrigeration devices are serviced regularly and records
are maintained.
66Waste DisposalGarbage is stored outside and removed weekly by
waste management company (Name of 3rd Party).
67Employee FacilitiesEmployees are provided staff washrooms and lockers. Washrooms are checked for cleanliness and supplied
twice daily and signed off.
71Water, steam, and ice – supply and treatmentBoiler process water is treated separately from product
process water. Product process water is UV sterilized on-site.

Unloading, loading, and storage

SFCR
Section
RequirementJustification
74StoringIngredients and finished product are stored off the
floor on wood pallets.

Competency

SFCR
Section
RequirementJustification
75CompetencyEmployees are provided with training records upon on- boarding as well as a 30-day review. Employee performance is reviewed annually.

Hygiene

SFCR
Section
RequirementJustification
76Clothing, footwear, and protective coveringsSignage, supervision, employee audits
77Personal CleanlinessIncluded in workplace minimum standards document and monitored by supervisors
78Personal ConductIncluded in workplace minimum standards document
and monitored by supervisors
79Personal objects and substancesIncluded in workplace minimum standards document and monitored by supervisors
80Reporting of health conditionIncluded in workplace minimum standards document and monitored by supervisors
81Communicable disease
and lesions
Included in workplace minimum standards document
and monitored by supervisors

Hazard identification and evaluation

Input, process step or cross contamination pointHazard and causeControl measureIs the hazard significant?Justification
Process step: Storage(Chemical, biological, physical) Contamination by various hazards during storage due to the presence of pests and / or contamination with cleaning chemicalsMaintenance and operation of the establishment (SFCR sections 50-81)NoOur establishment provides a sanitary environment for the production of food and is maintained via the Monthly
Facilities PM
Process step: Sanitizing rinse of packaging equipment(Chemical) Carryover of Oxonia Active (peracetic acid) in filling equipment due to improper fresh water rinsingAdequate cleaning programs for fresh water rinsing and peracetic acid test stripsNoHealth injuries are not known or detected under normal use according to chemical SDS
Cross contamination point: Fermentation and packaging(Biological) Inadvertent infection with beer spoilage micro- organisms including Lactobacillus and Pediococci speciesAdequate cleaning and sanitation of fermentation vessels, brite tanks, and packaging equipment per standard operating procedures.
Sensory analysis also prevents infected product from reaching consumers
NoBeer spoilage microorganisms are not pathogenic to humans
Process Step: Water filt ration(Biological) Contamination of incoming water with E. coli bacteriaFacility has installed UV Sterilight on incoming water after charcoal filtrationYesPathogens could be present in the process water and consumers could get food poisoning
Process Step: Finished Product Storage and Warehousing(Physical) Excessive CO2 buildup in cans caused by refermentation which compromises the structural integrity of the canAll can labels contain instructions for consumers to keep the product refrigerated thus limiting the occurrence of refermentationYesDepending on which part of the can fails (typically around the seam) there can be sharp edges
Cross contamination point: Packaging(Chemical) Contamination of food with wheat from beer processed on the same lineProduction line is cleaned and visually inspected prior to processingYesVery low levels or allergens can harm allergic consumers and could be present in the product

Control measures

Control MeasureDescriptionDocuments
Maintenance and Operation of the EstablishmentSee subsection of this document pertaining to maintenance and operation of the establishmentFacilities PM, Pest control records, equipment PM
Peracetic acid test stripsTest strips test peracetic concentration in a solution in the range of 0-160 ppm. Desired sani solution concentration is 50-100 ppm and is adjusted as neededChemical training, SDS binder
Cleaning and sanitation of fermentation vessels, brite tanks, and packaging equipmentFermentation vessels and brite tanks are cleaned with acid and caustic cleaners and hot water to effectively eliminate all biological contamination sourcesSOP’s in brewing, and equipment manuals, training
records
UV SterilightUV light installed at incoming water source. As water flows past the lamp, pathogens receive a lethal dose of UV light that damages their DNA and eliminates their ability to reproduceWater and wastewater records from Town/City of (Name of town/city), microbiological sampling
Can LabelsKeeping cans refrigerated extends the shelf life of the product in addition to reducing the risk of over pressurization caused by refermentation.
Product is at risk of refermentation when stored between 18 and 27 degrees C and varies depending on the yeast load, oxygen, and fermentable sugars still present
Can label

Hazard analysis and control procedures

Process StepSignificant hazardsDo control measures for this hazard exist at this step?Is this step specifically designed to prevent or eliminate the hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level?Would subsequent step eliminate or reduce it to an acceptable level?CCP
number
Bottle filling(Physical) Presence of hazardous extraneous broken glass in the finished product either due to the failure of the empty glass bottle (glass defect) or malfunction of the bottle fillerYesYes CCP#1P

Corrective action procedure

Critical Control PointSignificant HazardControl MeasureCritical LimitsMonitoring ProcedureCorrective Action Procedure
CCP#1P(Physical) Presence of hazardous extraneous broken glass in the finished product either due to the failure of the empty glass bottle (glass defect) or malfunction of the bottle fillerVisual inspection and observation by trained operatorsAll product must be completely free of glass Inclusions both internal and external to the packageThe filling process is to be monitored by the production operator or technician at all times. When a glass bottle break is observed or detected the filler must be stopped.-Stop the bottle filler
-Separate the filled and capped product from the empty bottles
-Discard the four rows of empty bottles prior to the fill tubes
-Discard the row of empty bottles under the fill tubes and remove all glass debris
-Externally rinse all capped finished product not yet packaged and inspect for glass inclusions
-Thoroughly rinse the bottling machine including the table, fill tubes, and capping cylinders

Verification procedures

Control measure to be verifiedVerification procedureWhenWhoRecords
CCP #1P – Visual inspection and observation by trained operatorsTask 1:  Review records to ensure that bottle breakages are recorded on each runTask 1:  DailyBrewery Operations ManagerTask 1:  Corrective action records signed off
 Task 2:  Observe operators carrying out corrective action procedureTask 2:  Semi- annually Task 2:  Verification activities are recorded on verification form
 Task 3:  Verify that glass inclusions do not exist in sealed product after bottle burst using foam pick methodTask 3:  Annually Task 3:  Verification activities are recorded on verification form

Brewing process quality controls

The following is a list of brewing process quality controls currently being performed:

Test performedHow Measured:
Gravity of wort and beerUsing a hydrometer and graduated cylinder, the brewer measures the original gravity in degrees plato and records on the brew sheet.  A measurement of brewhouse yield and lauter performance when measured in wort, and a measurement of fermentation performance when measured in beer.
pH of wort and beerUsing an electronic pH Meter, the brewer measures and records the pH of the sample to two decimal places.  An indication of chemical or bacterial contamination.
Yeast cell countUsing a haemocytometer and microscope, the brewer counts the cells on five squares, then multiplies by the appropriate dilution factor to calculate the number of cells in the sample. Used to determine yeast pitching rates.
Yeast dead cell countUsing a haemocytometer, microscope, and methylene blue, the brewer counts the number of dead cells (dyed blue) and divides by the total number of cells to get the dead cell percentage.  An overall determination of yeast viability and is useful for yeast pitching rates and repitch of future generations.
TemperatureResistance thermal detector – measured on various HMI’s in the brewery.
Alcohol content (% by weight)Gas chromatography – currently performed by third-party (Name of 3rd Party).
PressurePressure gauge – each pressurized vessel is equipped with a pressure gauge measuring 0 – 25 psi to determine the headspace pressure of the vessel. This pressure is used in the forced carbonation of beer.
Dissolved oxygenHaffman’s c-DGM – the production technician runs a sufficient amount of beer through the meter to determine the dissolved oxygen, which is a predictive indicator of product shelf life.
Dissolved carbon dioxideHaffman’s c-DGM – the production technician runs a sufficient amount of beer through the meter to determine the dissolved CO2.  Determines if forced carbonation procedure was correctly executed.
Total packaged oxygenHaffman’s c-DGM and container sampling device. Oxygen can be introduced during the packaging process and is a predictive indicator of product shelf life.
Microbiological beer spoilersHLP Medium (Hsu’s Lactobacillus and Pediococci Medium) which allows for the detection of Lactobacillus and Pediococci species while restricting culture yeast growth, and sensory analysis.  Lactobacillus and Pediococci species introduce unwanted flavours into the product and can be introduced at any “cold side” step of the process.

Measures for consumer protection

SFCR SectionRequirementMeasures
231(b) or 221The declaration of net quantity must be shown.Net quantity is printed on all labels.
233(1)(a)The metric units that must be shown in a declaration of net quantity must be in millilitres if the net volume is less than 1000mL.Package sizes are 341mL, 355mL, and 473mL, and are all labelled in millilitres.
218Labels must bear common name of the product and the name of the principal place of business of the person by whom the food
was manufactured.
Information is on all labels and corrugated boxes.

Traceability study

  1. The package date label on the product identifies the product
  2. Product recovery procedure is implemented to include all affected product at retailers, licensees, and distribution centres
  3. All pertinent parties are notified

The following is a list of production components (ingredients, packaging materials, processing aids, and chemicals) and the suppliers for each:

Production ComponentSupplier(s)
  
  
  

(THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK – fill in table with brewery production components and name of supplier(s))

Supplier contact list

SupplierContact PersonAddressPhone Number
    
    
    

(THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK – fill in with brewery’s suppliers)

Sample CCP corrective action record

CCP Number:
CCP#1P
Corrective Action Date and Time:
Non-Conformance Listed By:
Describe non-conformance:
 
Describe corrective action:
 
Corrective Action Completed by:
Verification By: (print name & signature)
Verification Date:

Sample CCP verification record

CCP Being Verified:
CCP#1P
Verification Date and Time:
Verification Performed By:
Describe the Verification Task:
 
Describe any non-conformances found during verification:
 
Signature:

Annex 3

Commercial invoice

Title: Commercial invoice  - Description: Template of a commercial invoice form. Categories of the form include: exporter, invoice number & date, bill of lading number, reference, buyer reference, consignee, buyer (if not consignee), method of dispatch, type of shipment, country of origin of goods, country of final destination, vessel/aircraft, voyage no., terms/method of payment, port of loading, date of departure, port of discharge, final destination, marine cover policy no., letter of credit no., product code, description of goods, HS code, unit quantity, unit type, price, amount, total this page, consignment total, invoice total, place and date of issue, signatory company, name of authorized signatory, signature, additional information and bank details.
  • Text version

    Template of a commercial invoice form. Categories of the form include: exporter, invoice number & date, bill of lading number, reference, buyer reference, consignee, buyer (if not consignee), method of dispatch, type of shipment, country of origin of goods, country of final destination, vessel/aircraft, voyage no., terms/method of payment, port of loading, date of departure, port of discharge, final destination, marine cover policy no., letter of credit no., product code, description of goods, HS code, unit quantity, unit type, price, amount, total this page, consignment total, invoice total, place and date of issue, signatory company, name of authorized signatory, signature, additional information and bank details.

Annex 4a

Packing list

Title: Packing list - Description: Template of a packing list form. Categories of the form include: exporter, invoice number & date, bill of lading number, reference, buyer reference, consignee, buyer (if not consignee), method of dispatch, type of shipment, country of origin of goods, country of final destination, vessel/aircraft, voyage no., packing information, port of loading, date of departure, port of discharge, final destination, product code, description of goods, unit quantity, kind & number of packages, net weight of package (Kg), gross weight of package (Kg), measurements of package (m3), total this page, consignment total, place and date of issue, signatory company, name of authorized signatory, signature and additional information.
  • Text version

    Template of a packing list form. Categories of the form include: exporter, export invoice number & date, bill of lading number, reference, buyer reference, consignee, buyer (if not consignee), method of dispatch, type of shipment, country of origin of goods, country of final destination, vessel/aircraft, voyage no., packing information, port of loading, date of departure, port of discharge, final destination, product code, description of goods, unit quantity, kind & number of packages, net weight of package (Kg), gross weight of package (Kg), measurements of package (m3), total this page, consignment total, place and date of issue, signatory company, name of authorized signatory, signature and additional information.

Annex 4b

Container packing list

  • Text version

    Template of a container packing list form. Categories of the form include: exporter, export invoice number & date, bill of lading number, reference, buyer reference, consignee, buyer (if not consignee), method of dispatch, type of shipment, country of origin of goods, country of final destination, vessel/aircraft, voyage no., packing information, port of loading, date of departure, port of discharge, final destination, container number, seal number, description of goods, no. of packages, net weight (Kg), gross weight (Kg), measurements (m3), no. of containers this page, total no. of containers, total this page, consignment total, place and date of issue, signatory company, name of authorized signatory, signature and additional information.

Annex 5

Packing declaration

  • Text version

    Template of packing declaration form. Categories of the form include: shipper, reference, consignment identifier or numerical link, vessel/aircraft, voyage no., Unacceptable packing material statement (packaging material such as straw, peat, hay, chaff, used fruit and vegetable cartons are not permitted):

Q1 – have unacceptable packaging materials been used as packaging or dunnage in the consignments covered by this document?

A1 - YES or NO, Timber/bamboo packaging/dunnage statement:

Q2 – Has timber/bamboo packaging/dunnage been used in consignments covered by this document?

A2 -  YES Timber, YES bamboo, NO (nil timber/bamboo), Treatment certification (only if timber/bamboo packaging/dunnage is declared in question 2):

Q3 - All timber/bamboo packaging or Treated in compliance with Department of Agriculture and Water Resources treatment requirements or Not treated, place and date of issue, signatory company, name of authorized signatory, signature.

Annex 6

Shipper’s letter of instruction

  • Text version

    Template of a shipper’s letter of instruction form. Categories of the form include: shipper, reference, buyer reference, export declaration number, forwarding agent, consignee, notify party (if not consignee), method of dispatch, type of shipment, vessel/aircraft voyage no., place of receipt, country of origin of goods, country of final destination, port of loading, date of departure, freight charges, document instructions, port of discharge, final destination, Incoterms® 2020, declared value, marks and numbers, kind & no. of packages, description of goods, gross weight (kg), measurements (m3), does this shipment contain HAZARDOUS / DANGEROUS goods? If you answered YES, please also enclose your dangerous goods paperwork, is this shipment on Letter of Credit? If you answered YES, please also enclose your Letter of Credit paperwork, special instructions, place and date of issue, signatory company, name of authorized signatory, signature.

Date Modified: