Cannabis-infused beverages may only represent a small portion of the overall legal market in the U.S. and Canada now, but there are several reasons to believe that may change, and quickly.
Several companies—from cannabis giants like Canopy Growth and Acreage Holdings to historic, household brands like Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR)—have placed their bets on cannabis-infused beverages, announcing releases (or plans to) in Q4 2020.
In the case of PBR, which agreed to allow the independently operated Pabst Labs to use its brand for its new THC-based drink, the company is not subbing alcohol for THC and creating a beer, like Lagunitas Brewing Company (and parent brand Heineken) did in the case of Hi-Fi Hops. Instead, PBR Labs and many others are fueling a growing niche within the cannabis beverage niche–THC-infused tonics.
And if the popularity of sparking water brands like La Croix and alcohol-based hard seltzers are any indication, these bubbling beverages may be the drink that takes this edibles segment to the next level.
Poised for Growth
The edibles market represents 15% of all cannabis sales in the U.S., according to a recent webinar hosted by industry research firm BDSA, and beverages make up just a small portion of edibles sales at 5%. In Canada, those figures are 6% and 3%, respectively, according to BDSA. But there is evidence of growing interest.
Of U.S. cannabis consumers, nearly a fifth consume beverages and 8% prefer them, according to BDSA.
A Brightfield Group Q2 2020 survey of 3,500 U.S. cannabis consumers showed similar trends, as 22% reported consuming a cannabis-infused drink. That’s compared with 57% consuming flower and 41% consuming gummies, according to Brightfield.
But, “the category has seen significant growth year over year. In Q3 2019, only 14% of cannabis consumers were using drinks,” Bethany Gomez, managing director of Brightfield Group,