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The Potential Impact of Cannabinoid-Drinks on Alcoholic Beverages and Alcohol Abuse

·4 min read

The global cannabis-based drinks market is projected to have tremendous growth in the coming years.

According to a new report from cannabis market intelligence and consultancy firm Prohibition Partners, the global cannabis beverage market will be worth $1.82 billion by the end of 2020 and $5.8 billion by the year 2024.

The Impact Series: Disrupting Drinks” report examines the impact that cannabis beverages might have on the established drinks market, and includes important insight garnered from extensive consumer surveys. Based on this data, Prohibition Partners predicts that these cannabis-based drinks could pose a significant threat to the alcohol industry.

Alcohol During The Coronavirus Pandemic

With the coronavirus pandemic containing large swathes of the global population to their homes, fears arose that the lockdown measures might result in a sharp increase in alcohol consumption.

Alcohol support services in the UK reported that clients were drinking more and relapsing into old alcohol abuse behaviors as the lockdown cut off many dependent drinkers from their support systems. Among the general population, nearly a third of Britons reported drinking more alcohol than usual under the lockdown conditions, with higher rates of loneliness and mental distress thought to be the cause of this.

This was also reflected in alcohol sales data from around the world. Online alcohol sales in the United States were up by 234% in the seven-week period between March 7 and April 25, compared to the year before. On-premises sales also rose slightly as more consumers began ordering alcohol with their takeout food deliveries — 14% in the week ending April 25, up from 9% in the two weeks previous.

In Australia, data shows that alcohol consumption has remained reasonably steady throughout the pandemic, with only 14% of Australians reporting an increase in alcohol use. However, women are over-represented in this group, with 18% of women reporting an increase in drinking compared to just 10.8% of men.

On a related note, research from China and Singapore has shown that women are more likely to experience symptoms of stress, and anxiety, and depression during the pandemic. Women are also three times more likely than men to be looking after children full-time on their own during the lockdown. These extra stressors are likely to fuel the use of intoxicants like alcohol as a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult emotions and circumstances during this pandemic.

Cannabis Drinks Could Displace Demand For Alcohol

One of the key takeaways from the “Disrupting Drinks” report is the large number of consumers who view cannabis-based drinks as an alternative to alcohol — representing a threat to the established alcohol industry.

Just as consumers may view an alcoholic drink as an opportunity to relax after a long day, the strongest motivations behind the use of cannabis and CBD/hemp-based drinks are as an aid to relaxation or sleep. In addition, many cannabis-based drinks also come with associations with health and wellness.

Consumer research conducted for the report found that one in five consumers of CBD/hemp-infused drinks do so as a replacement for intoxicating substances like alcohol. In comparison, only 13% of current cannabis-based beverage consumers do so as an accompaniment to other intoxicants.

These figures are similar for potential consumers — those who have not used any cannabis-based beverage before, but intend to do so within the next twelve months. 20%  of respondents in this group would consider using cannabis beverages as an alternative to intoxicants, with fewer than one in ten intending to use them as an accompaniment.

For those who may be looking for an alternative to alcohol, cannabis-based drinks that mimic the format and flavor profiles of popular alcoholic options could encourage consumers into the cannabis drinks sector on a trial and novelty basis. With potential demand present, the pressure is on for these products to deliver on taste and quality in order to establish the sector as a long-term and viable alternative to the traditional alcoholic drinks market.

For more information on cannabis’ impact in the drinks market, as well as on the key market players, innovations, and commercial opportunities, the full The Impact Series: Disrupting Drinks report is available for purchase and download here.


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