Analysis & Benchmarking of the SAQ contract for wine importation


By Victorine Leturgez

SKEMA Business School

Paris, France



When it comes to consumption many people would think that this is something that we are doing in a totally free manner. However, even if we are living in the 21th century, it still exists places where buying a product is a complex process because of very specifics contracts that rules the behavior of the consumers. It is the case in Québec with the contract for wine importation and so, consumption. Here, this paper will be designed to research, analyze and answer the reasons why private importation might be threaten by studying specialized articles, interviews, research papers in the wine sector in different countries with the use of a Multi-Attribute Decision Making method. The expectations from this paper are to point out what are the main failures of this contract, such as price, management and efficiency issues. This paper may help the SAQ to understand that it acts like an obstacle for the wine market in Québec.

Key words: Wine, importation, SAQ, Québec, service, contract, order


SAQ (Société des Alcools du Québec) is one of the most powerful state society in the world. The creation of this contract between consumers and the state dates back to the prohibition in the United States in the early 1920s. Canada has followed the example and almost all the provinces have now a strict control of the importation, distribution and the sale of alcohol. This paper will be focused on the wine sector in Québec with the SAQ as it is one of the most important. In 2016, the SAQ net profit has reached 1,067 billion dollars, fully paid to the government of Quebec.

However, the state’s monopoly through the SAQ has been, over the past years, a real issue. For most people, it is no longer justified to have this entity that dictates alcohol consumption. Still, nothing has changed and it is impossible to know if there will be a liberalization one day, as a lot of people seems to hope.

The SAQ has developed a new way of importing wine in Québec: the private importation. Consumers and restaurateurs can now import wines that are not proposed in SAQ throughout specialized agencies. In 2016, there were 16 000 products in private imports and 11 500 general products in SAQ shops. The contract specified that they must follow specific rules to import these wines in line with the SAQ process which will be detailed later in this paper.

Even if the market is still growing and new specialized agencies in wine importation are created, the future of private imports is seriously questioned. Thus, this paper aimed in pointed out the limitations of the private importation contract in Québec:

  1.  First, the pricing issue will be discussed to show that there is a real difference in price because of the contract in private importation.
  2. Secondly, that this way of working between the SAQ, the consumers, the agencies and the suppliers, results in problem of management.
  3. Thirdly, all the specificities of the private importation contract will be examined to reveal an efficiency concern.

Regarding these three main points, does the wine private importation contract in Québec have a future?


To read entire paper, click here


Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected].

About the Author

Victorine Leturgez

SKEMA Business School
Paris, France



Victorine Leturgez is a French student in Skema Business School. She is actually doing a specialized master degree in Project Management & Business Development. Previously, she did a 6 month internship in one of the biggest agencies in wine importation in Montréal. Victorine has worked with the Canadian wine market. She has experience in project and business development, in communicating, analyzing but also in the wine area and more precisely in Québec. She lives in Paris, France and can be reached at [email protected].