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Thc could replace abv as consumers look to cannabis for an “intoxicating buzz”

Published:  28 February, 2019

Experts have warned that alcoholic drinks is the FMCG category most likely to be under threat from cannabis, which will be at the heart of a “global paradigm shift” over the next decade.

A new report from Euromonitor International is clear about the growing role cannabis will play on consumer trends, appearing in everything from beauty to wellness products.

According to the report, it is “poised to disrupt virtually every consumer industry”.

However it is alcohol, which is “already the by far the most embedded industry in the cannabis sector”, with at least three leading corporate players already taking a stake, which is most at risk from disruption.

Euromonitor expects federal legalisation of recreational cannabis in the US within the next 10 years, with several large markets, such as Germany, Czech Republic and Australia, “moving forward with liberalised structures”.

The advice of Spiros Malandrakis, industry manager for alcoholic drinks at Euromonitor, is to embrace this hot trend or risk being left out in the cold.

“Cannabis will ultimately culminate a global paradigm shift that will radically disrupt traditionalist industries such as alcoholic drinks. Reshaping millennia-old drinking rituals and providing an alternative to social lubrication occasions, cannabis should be either embraced as a symbiotic opportunity or faced as a potentially detrimental antagonist for an alcohol industry already on the defensive,” he said.

One of the main challenges for the alcohol sector is thc.

It is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and is currently not being used in alcoholic drinks because of a potential double whammy of effects.

At the very least, more research into combining alcohol and thc needs to be carried out.

Until then, “The industry is already headed in a low- / non-alcohol direction and so a future where thc replaces abv in alcoholic beverages with an intoxicating buzz is on the horizon”, the report warns.

The report also identifies the cannabinoid, cbd, as a challenger in the soft drinks market, which is currently all about “health and wellness”.

These coalescing trends are on the radar of industry leaders such as Troy Christensen, CEO at Enotria & Coe.

Christensen brought up the strong link in consumer perception between cannabis and health, particularly among the younger generation, at Enotria’s latest portfolio tasting, where the company was trialling two Kombucha softs and a range of low and no alcoholic drinks.

“My nephews in Colorado see wine as the big bad company. Cannabis is the opposite,” he said.

Global sales of cannabis are set to rise considerably from the current USD150 billion for both the legal and illegal market.

By 2025, Euromonitor expects the legal market alone to eclipse this, standing at an estimated USD166 billion – a 77% increase on today.