Toasting the New Year in Canada with New York Wines
Shoppers in Canada now have more options when it comes to selecting a special beverage for toasting and ringing in the new year. With the support of USDA Market Access Program (MAP) funds, the New York Wine and Grape Foundation (NYWGF) worked with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to pop the cork and open the wine market just north of the border to New York State.
The NYWGF’s efforts to break into the Canada market initially began in 2020 when the region’s wineries and exporters faced unprecedented challenges due to the Covid pandemic. With its close geographic proximity to New York State and the purchasing power of its consumers, Canada was identified as a great target market to help diversify and grow New York State wine sales. Ontario stood out, since the largest provincial liquor control board in the country is the LCBO. The NYWGF applied for MAP funds that year and soon kicked off a multi-year promotional campaign to attract Canadian importers and buyers.
As a result, today the sales of New York wines have rebounded with more than 20-percent growth, by value and volume, as compared to 2020. This success is extremely meaningful for New York wineries, which are small- to medium-sized businesses. And while New York wineries produce less than 5,000 cases of wine per year, the industry contributes $6.65 billion to the state’s economic activity and supports close to 72,000 jobs.
So how exactly did MAP funds lead to this success for New York’s wineries? Great question!
After receiving support from USDA via MAP funds, the NYWGF was able to develop and carry out promotional and educational activities targeted at the LCBO. The most effective effort was tours of the New York wine region, where Canadian buyers were able to see and taste the amazing wines of New York and meet the people behind the labels. After the tours, the importers expressed a great appreciation for being able to gain an understanding of New York wine and the delicious types available.
Furthermore, the order receipts were evidence of their newly gained appreciation and affinity for the region’s wines. After the tour in 2022, LCBO ordered more than 500 cases of wine from the Long Island and Finger Lakes regions, which opened the Canada market for New York wines, especially Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Then following the tour this year, LCBO increased their order to 778 cases, from six different New York wineries, and organized special in-store promotions in Ontario.
For New York State wineries, the purchases in 2022 and 2023 made up approximately 10 percent and 15 percent of their case sales, respectively. So, this New Year’s Eve when you celebrate your achievements from last year and ponder your goals for next year, we hope you join us in toasting the export successes (both big and small) that are helping America’s agribusinesses and exporters diversify and expand into new markets.