/Posthaste: Canadian beer consumption fell 4% last year — the most since Prohibition. Blame millennials and cannabis

Posthaste: Canadian beer consumption fell 4% last year — the most since Prohibition. Blame millennials and cannabis

Good Morning!

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.

Here’s what you need to know this morning:

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the Liberal national caucus meeting
  • U.S. Federal Open Market Committee, announced at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time
  • The Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel holds a press conference marking the publication of their final report and recommendations to government
  • CIBC hosts 23rd annual Western Institutional Investor Conference in Banff, Alta.
  • B.C. Natural Resources Forum in Prince George, B.C. As part of the BC Natural Resources Forum, members of the First Nations Climate Initiative invite representatives of all First Nations to discuss how to address climate change and alleviate poverty through the use of LNG. (TBA)
  • Morneau Shepell announces global research at 9th annual workplace mental health summit in Vancouver
  • Notable earnings: Exco Technologies Ltd., Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., Celestica Inc., Methanex Corp., Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Boeing Co., Tesla Inc., McDonald’s Corp. and General Electric Co.

What should Canadian employers do to ensure that the coronavirus does not spread through their workplaces?

A client asked FP columnist and employment lawyer Howard Levitt whether it could prevent two employees, who had just returned from China, from attending its workplace. Here is the advice he is providing employer clients.



— Please send your news, comments and stories to [email protected]. — Yadullah Hussain @Yad_Fpenergy

With files from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg


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