Will the Buzz Over Cannabis Beverages Last?

Departments - Upfront | Sales Trends

A look at this growing product category and its future

Subscribe
December 1, 2021

Fig. 1. Comparing the gross merchandise value (GMV) of cannabis beverages in 2020 and 2021 in the U.S. The 1.0 on the vertical axis represents the baseline value of the category in 2020. The bar for 2021 represents the value for the category in 2021 relative to 2020. Source: LeafLink; Fig. 2. Comparing the growth in retailers buying cannabis beverages to those buying edibles and all products in 2020 and 2021 in the U.S. The 1.0 on the vertical axis represents the baseline of the category in 2020. The bar for 2021 represents the value for the category in 2021 relative to 2020. Source: LeafLink

Cannabis beverages have been getting a lot of hype recently—and deservedly so. A new frontier to the cannabis industry, beverages are a fun and hangover-free addition to consumers’ social lives. The global cannabis beverage market is expected to reach $2 billion by 2026, up from $799.8 million in 2020, according to Global Industry Analysts Inc.

While cannabis beverages are receiving a lot of buzz, are they really exponentially increasing in popularity? LeafLink set out to examine cannabis beverages to see just how popular they have become over the past year.

Cannabis Beverage Popularity

Cannabis beverages are certainly in demand, seeing a 54.2% year-over-year increase in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2021, in the U.S. (GMV refers to the total value of merchandise sold through a marketplace over a given period of time.) A report from Grand View Research shows consumers are enticed by the health-conscious aspects of cannabis beverages, which tout low sugar and no-hangover characteristics. Cannabis beverages are an increasingly popular alternative to inhalable and edible products, another factor that sets up the sector for continued growth, according to a Beverage Dynamics report.

Cannabis drinks are beginning to enter the café and restaurant scene, too, and top alcohol companies like Anheuser-Busch and Constellation Brands already have developed cannabis-based beverages. Overall, the cannabis beverage sector represents a social beverage alternative that is on the rise.

Are Beverages Outpacing Industry Growth?

According to LeafLink data, the GMV of cannabis beverages in the U.S. increased from 2020 to 2021 as evidenced in Fig. 1 (data compares Jan. 1, 2020 to Jan. 1, 2021). Cannabis beverages are drawing more interest from retailers each year, with the number of U.S. retailers buying beverages growing 26% within the same time frame (Fig. 2).

However, despite the increasing GMV and number of buyers within the cannabis beverage sector, these statistics show that they are not significantly outpacing the growth of other cannabis product categories. There is no doubt that cannabis beverages are getting more popular—but so is everything cannabis. As more suppliers invest in equipment and scale to meet growing interest, cannabis infused beverage sales could very well live up to the hype next year.

How Legalization Could Impact Beverages

Legalization of medical cannabis in 33 states led to the introduction of many infused beverages. With 17 more states to go, and an increasing adult-use legalization trend, beverages will continue to see growth in buyers, sales, and product variety available to U.S. consumers. With the cannabis boom happening across products and sectors, and federal legalization on the horizon, infused beverages have a bright future.

Alex Feldman is general manager of Insights & Marketing Services at LeafLink.