The Beer Industry Is Taking A Hit Because Of Legal Marijuana

Image courtesy of Ryan Dearth

When it comes time to kick back on the couch and get your buzz on, a new study says consumers in states with legal marijuana may be reaching for the bong instead of a beer.

Research firm Cowen & Company looked at the beer industries in a few states where recreational weed is legal, and where craft beer has become quite popular over the years — Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — and analyzed the latest Nielsen data in those three states, industry site Brewbound reports.

Researchers found that beer markets in those states have “collectively underperformed” in the last two years, and that the “magnitude of the underperformance has increased notably”: beer volumes have fallen more than 2% year-to-date, the study found, and is lagging behind overall U.S. market.

Craft beer volumes declined 2.2%, but it’s mainstream brewers like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors that have seen the biggest dip, with volumes dropping 4.4% according to the analysts.

“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,” wrote Vivien Azer, Cowen and Company’s managing director and senior research analyst.

Azer notes that this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering government data for those three states has shown “consistent growth in cannabis incidence among 18-25 year olds” while that same age group has seen declines “in alcohol incidence (in terms of past month use).” This shift is most evident in Denver, where total beer volumes have fallen 6.4%.

Despite all this doom and gloom for U.S. beers, imported brands appear to be “immune” from the pot phenomenon, though sales of those brews are still “meaningfully” behind national growth.

(h/t Eater)

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