Canada amends its vodka standard to enhance economic competitiveness, facilitate trade, and create more choice for consumers

News release

June 26, 2019—Ottawa, ON – Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Canada's vodka compositional standard has been updated to allow the country's growing spirits industry to be more innovative, provide more choice for consumers, and enhance trade, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced today.

Canadian distillers can now use agricultural ingredients other than potatoes and cereal grain to produce vodka. Allowing the use of new ingredients such as honey, apple, or dairy in vodka production gives consumers more choice and better aligns Canada with international standards, increasing innovation and competitiveness.

To help consumers make informed choices, vodka produced from ingredients other than just potatoes or cereal grain must be labelled accordingly using the statement "Produced from."

Vodka will remain a neutral alcoholic beverage, meaning it is without distinctive character, aroma, or taste, but the revised standard allows distillers to achieve this outcome by using material or processes other than just charcoal. The only filtration process permitted for vodka under the previous regulations was through charcoal.

The changes to the vodka standard follow the Government of Canada's announcement in November 2018 on federal actions to enhance competitiveness and facilitate trade. The revised standard means fewer barriers to trade between provinces and territories, and enhances international trade since the revised standard better aligns with the vodka standard of key trading partners, like the U.S. and European Union which allow vodka to be produced from a wide range of materials. 

This is another example of the Government of Canada's work to reform Canada's regulatory system to make it more agile, transparent, and responsive so that businesses can grow, resulting in benefits for all Canadians.

The new regulatory requirements come into force immediately. However, Canadian distillers have until December 13, 2022 to follow the new rules and make any applicable labelling changes.

Quotes

"Our Government committed to modernize the vodka standard to enhance economic competitiveness and improve trade. We've now met this promise and our country's ever-growing spirits industry will be able to create new and innovative vodkas and sell them in markets across Canada and abroad."

— Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Quick facts

  • Vodka was among the most popular spirits sold across Canada in 2016 to 2017, with $1.3 billion in sales and making up nearly 25% of all spirit sales. Sales were highest in Ontario, followed by British Columbia and Alberta

  • There are 112 distilleries across Canada, with the majority located in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec

  • In 2017, Canada imported more vodka than it exported: imports totaled $143.9 million while exports were $13.8 million. The U.S. was among the top sources of imports and accounted for approximately 90% of Canada's vodka exports

  • Food compositional standards set out the criteria that define a particular food, often with its associated common name, for example beer, jam, or bread. There are over 300 food standards in the Food and Drug Regulations which are applied when the food product is traded inter-provincially or imported into Canada

Associated links

Contacts

Justine Lesage
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
justine.lesage@canada.ca
Mobile: 613-404-1168

Media Relations
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
613-773-6600
cfia.media.acia@canada.ca


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