Legal marijuana is taking a bite out of beer sales.
Research firm Cowen & Company analyzed beer sales in Colorado, Oregon and Washington — states where both recreational weed is legal and the craft beer movement prevalent. In those states, beer sales have “collectively underperformed” over the last two years.
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“In adult-use cannabis markets, there are clear signs that cannabis is weighing on beer category trends,” according to Vivien Azer, managing director and senior research analyst for Cowen and Company. Azer also noted that “mainstream beers are the biggest drag, while craft is also slowing. Imports look the most immune.”
Is there a direct correlation to marijuana?
“While (marijuana) retail sales opened up in these markets at different points of time, with all three of these states now having fully implemented a retail infrastructure, the underperformance of beer in these markets has worsened over the course of 2016,” Azer wrote.
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“This is perhaps not surprising, given that U.S. government data for the states of CO, WA and OR all show consistent growth in cannabis incidence among 18-25 year olds,” Azer added, “coupled with declines in alcohol incidence (in terms of past month use).”
Although the sales of craft beer have slowed, the “biggest drag” is on mainstream brands, with economy beer volumes down 2.4 percent and premium domestic volumes (including Bud Light and Coors Light) down 4.4 percent.
The beer-to-bud shift is most noticeable in the Denver metropolitan area, where beer volumes dipped by 6.4 percent. Government data demonstrates that 18 to 25 year-olds have increased cannabis use while decreasing its alcohol use.
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