The craft beer industry is seeing competition from an unexpected opponent: the iPhone.
According to a CCC Investment Banking report, Canadian craft beer has been steadily growing as mainstream beer consumption declines year over year. American craft brewers, however, while still outpacing industrial offerings, are currently seeing sales drops in nearly one-third of all breweries since 2017.
One possible culprit is cannabis, which some experts argue could replace beer where recreational use is legal. Instead of cracking open a beer at the end of the day, people are choosing to smoke weed or eat edibles, the argument goes.
However, Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, shrugged off the idea. In addition to there being “little evidence that cannabis has affected beer sales,” according to a new analysis, despite it now being legal in 10 states, Pease is confident that cannabis’s impact will be no different than any other competitor beer faces — except for the iPhone.
“We look at cannabis as just another product beer consumers can choose to enjoy with their disposable income,” Pease told Beverage Daily. “We think the iPhone is a bigger threat right now, probably, to beer than cannabis. You used to go out to meet people, go out to a bar… now you just swipe right on your phone, you don’t need to go anywhere. All this is just part of the evolving society.”
In other words, we’re all anti-social monsters who prefer the company of a tiny glowing screen over venturing to the bar for a drink and some conversation. Actually, that checks out.
Pease also said cannabis is a big opportunity for craft brewers to innovate. In Canada, where recreational weed is legal to smoke and edibles will be legal in 2019, massive beer companies are partnering with cannabis companies to work on non-alcoholic cannabis brews.
Only then, once brewers have created products that mix cannabis and alcohol, will they be able to compete with the appeal of iPhones and staying home.