April 29, 2021 | In The IGG Blog

The Rise of Cannabis Beverages

Drinkable cannabis products are on the rise. After years of back and forth predictions, the cannabis beverage industry finally moved in 2020. Last year, cannabis beverage sales climbed 40% in CA, CO, NV, OR and WA.  

It has some cannabis business experts wondering: the edibles boom is already here, are drinkables the next big thing?

Cannabis Beverages in 2021 

Percent of US cannabis customers who purchased beverages. (Source: Cannabis Beverages: Analyzing category & brand performance by Headset.io)

According to a recent headset study, cannabis beverage prices remained fairly stagnant over the last few years. This year looks to be different, however. In 2020, cannabis beverage customers made up only 6.5% of cannabis purchases. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, it was 5.4%.  

While some of these numbers might be inflated due to “Dry January” (a common marketing technique for cannabis beverages) the report predicted that cannabis beverage use would land above 7% at this rate.  

In addition, 2021 has seen an increase in the rise of stronger cannabis drinks, suggesting that perhaps seasoned cannabis customers are interested in them. 

Why Cannabis Beverages? 

Cannabis beverages have been projected to rise for years now. While it’s not totally clear why the industry is suddenly seeing an uptick, it’s possibly related to these factors: 

Consumers are interested in alternatives to alcohol. 

Mocktails and alcohol-free beverage companies have exploded into the industry in recent years. A study led by Mintel showed that alcohol-free mixed drinks were up 35% between 2016-2019. It makes sense that cannabis beverages could fill a gap for those still looking for drinks with intoxicants, but ones that don’t have alcohol. 

Drinks are familiar. 

For newcomers to cannabis, it can feel intimidating to smoke, vape or try a tincture. How do you roll a joint? How much should you pack in a pipe? For non-smokers who have never tried cannabis, edibles are usually a good choice. Food is easy to consume and, maybe most importantly, customers already know how to eat. There’s no learning curve. Beverages offer the same “easy in” to recreational cannabis. 

It’s easier. 

Throw a drink in your bag and break it out anywhere (without potentially judgmental or suspicious eyes on it). Beverages are easier to consume in many settings than smoking or vaping might be. 

The Future of Cannabis Beverages 

Trends come and go in the cannabis world. From THC infused meal delivery services to cannabis beverages, it’s hard to predict what will stick and fade in this ever-evolving industry.  

But ss technology advances for cannabis beverages and the spread of recreational legalization continues, we expect that cannabis beverages will become even more mainstream. While it will likely be a while before cannabis beverages are offered alongside beers at local sporting events, if their popularity continues to increase, so will their accessibility.