Posthaste: Canadian beer consumption fell 4% last year — the most since Prohibition. Blame millennials and cannabis
Canadians are blessed with more microbreweries than ever — more than 1,000 at last count — but we don’t seem to be as enamoured by the amber brew any more, according to a new report by a food analyst.
“Only 15 years ago, beer accounted for 50 per cent of all sales of alcohol. That number is now below 38 per cent, according to AC Nielson,” wrote Dr Sylvain Charlebois, professor and senior director at Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in a new report this morning.
“As consumers are moving away from beer, the industry is left wondering what the future holds for this very important sector of the economy,” Charlebois said, noting that beer demand fell 4 per cent in 2019 — the largest reduction since Prohibition.
The analyst believes younger consumers are more interested in “ready-to-drink mixes like vodka-and-soda” and not as attached to a cold one as the older generation that cherishes its stouts, hops and suds.
“Market shifts are forcing beer marketers to think twice about how they have sold beer to Canadians. For example, beer and hockey have always formed a natural, very effective co-branding scheme,” Charlebois noted. “Given where the market is going, that relationship will require some rethinking. With beer consumption comes context. A growing number of people drinking beer today are not necessarily hockey fans, let alone watching a hockey game.”
Beer companies such as Molson-Coors can see the writing on the wall and have already invested in cannabis companies to lessen the blow.
“As we have seen in the United States, where recreational cannabis has been legal for quite some time, brewers are likely to see their market share get hit. Canadians are slowly recognizing the virtues of CBD-infused beverages, which can provide health benefits.”
Canadian apathy towards beer couldn’t have come at a worse time as there are more than 1,000 microbreweries mushrooming across Canada that have employed thousands of workers. According to some reports, another 200 microbreweries are expected to enter the Canadian market soon.
Charlebois says the market will need to dictate which companies deserve to survive and thrive, without any interference from public agencies.
“Other than getting rid of our ridiculous interprovincial barriers, governments across country should think twice before making market conditions conducive to allowing more players on the market.”
*** Coronavirus is emerging as real danger to the global economy, but for now markets are fixated on company earnings. Today, Microsoft, Facebook and Tesla, among others, will reveal their earnings, and expectations are high after Apple’s blockbuster results Tuesday. The U.S. Federal Reserve is also expected to hold rates, maintaining the status quo.
In Canada, economists are playing special attention to Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.’s results as that will be a good gauge of how the country’s economy fared in the fourth quarter.
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With files from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg