Private liquor stores in B.C. depend on the Liquor Distribution Branch to fill their orders, while it also runs a competing chain of government stores. (Black Press files)

Liquor review finds issues with B.C. wholesale monopoly

Report calls for ‘conflict of interest’ in system to be fixed

As the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch gets ready to add wholesale and retail marijuana sales to its network of liquor warehouses and stores, the B.C. government is being urged to deal with a conflict of interest in the system.

The LDB sets wholesale prices and supplies products for private liquor stores as well as government stores it operates in competition with the private stores, policy advisor Mark Hicken said in a report to the government released Wednesday.

Industry players have reported problems ordering product, deliveries that go missing or are delayed, unnecessary routing of products through LDB warehouses instead of direct, and delays in obtaining non-stocked products.

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Hicken chaired a panel with representatives of the B.C. Wine Institute, B.C. Craft Brewers Guild, Canada’s National Brewers, the Craft Distillers Guild of B.C., restaurant and pub owners and a rural agency store advisory group.

Panel members noted that they are “concerned about the general effects of cannabis legalization on the liquor market, including the additional challenges and work for the LDB which will be required by the expansion of its wholesale distribution services to include cannabis, as well as the potential effects on liquor revenue from cannabis sales.”

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