Americans are consuming less booze, leading retailers to shift focus

By Economic IndicatorsFOXBusiness

Anheuser-Busch looks to expand non-alcoholic drinks

Fox Business Outlook: Company creates new executive positon for non-alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol consumption is on the decline among Americans, who are increasingly turning to other products for a different kind of buzz.

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According to data compiled by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. alcohol volume declined 0.8 percent last year – 0.1 percentage point increase over the year prior. Beer consumption took the biggest hit, but growth among wine and spirits also slowed.

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The trend is being driven, in part, by more mindful consumption among millennials, who in some cases opt to completely abstain from drinking alcohol, the Journal noted.

As a result, some companies are banking on alternative products to lure consumers back – including marijuana-infused products. New Age Beverages Corp., a natural beverage company, recently struck a deal to develop and distribute Marley-branded cannabis-infused drinks. Its non-psychotropic main ingredient is cannabidiol (CBD).

“Consumers want what’s called 'the entourage' effect, which really gives them that relaxation,” New Age Beverage Corp. CEO Brent Willis told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney.  “It is not a buzz, it’s just relaxation, it kind of mellows you out.”

Anheuser-Busch InBev announced a $100 million joint venture in December to partner with Canadian pot producer Tilray to research cannabis-infused drinks. The companies plan to research a potential product that also includes CBD.

Constellation Brands – the parent company of Corona Beer – in August acquired a $4 billion stake in Canopy Growth Corp, a Canadian marijuana producer.

Molson-Coors said last year its Canadian unit was partnering in a joint venture with Hydropothecary Corporation “to pursue opportunities to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market following legalization.”

It’s not just pot, however, that producers are turning toward for a potential profit. Health-conscious consumers are also a target.

Molson-Coors, for example, started selling a non-alcoholic premium golden lager on Amazon last year, with only 45 calories per can.

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Meanwhile, Diageo announced in June that it would launch an “ultra-low alcohol” gin and tonic pre-mixed flavored drink for those who “choose not to drink or want to moderate their intake of alcohol.”

Anheuser-Busch has also begun selling a new lineup of hard green teas.