While the world has been waiting on bended knee for the past year or so, watching for large alcohol companies like Constellation Brands (makers of Corona and Modelo) and Heineken to take over the global cannabis market with a mighty vengeance, other popular booze slingers have gotten into the game without much fanfare at all. Over the summer, the manufacturer of one of America’s favorite whisky brands began producing a line of red-hot cannabis edibles that everyone from hipsters to weekend warrior suburbanites are going to recognize the second they spot them down at their neighborhood dispensary. Indeed, it seems the dragon has been unleashed.
The Sazerac Company, the maker of Fireball cinnamon whisky, recently got into the business of selling marijuana. The company, which knocks down hundreds of millions in sales with its popular liquor, rolled out a line of THC-infused gummies back in July that reportedly comes packed with the same delicious cinnamon flavor as its trendy whisky brand. Fireball is the third best-selling whiskey in the United States, just behind Jack Daniels and Crown Royal. But it remains to be seen just how well the company will do by selling a THC-infused (and alcohol-free) product on the cannabis scene.
It should come as no surprise that Sazerac jumped into the weed business with cannabis gummies. Some of the latest research from ArcView predicts the U.S cannabis edibles market will quadruple the next couple of years, bringing in more than $4 billion in predicted sales. The only surprise here is that the news of Fireball’s entry into the U.S. weed market didn’t cause the media to suffer a conniption. After all, as we saw with Coca-Cola and Pepsi last year, sometimes just speculation that a well-to-do beverage company is getting into weed (even the CBD sector) is enough to spark a frenzy of news to rival the beating of a dead horse.
But unless a person just happened to stumble onto Fireball edibles in recent months, chances are this is the first time they are hearing about them.
Then again, it’s not like Fireball is really going for broke in their latest endeavors in hopes of capitalizing on the burgeoning cannabis sector. By all accounts, this approach to the market appears to be more experimental than an honest push to become marijuana moguls. According to a report from Shaken News Daily, the company is only selling Fireball gummies in Nevada, which is one of the leading recreational pot states in the nation. This product, though, at least at one time, was one of the most popular cannabis edibles sold in that market. Fireball Cinnamon Sativa Gummies ranked sixth in overall cannabis edibles sales statewide, according to a December report from the cannabis data firm Headset.
However, a search through Weedmaps indicates that consumers might have a better chance of winning at the casinos than trying to find a 10-pack of these 100mg treats. Many, if not all, of the dispensaries that carried the Fireball product, were sold out of it at the time this article was written. But the product was well received when in stock. Nearly all of the reviews listed on Weedmaps were positive.
Alcohol companies have been seriously exploring the cannabis sector for the past couple of years. The goal is two-fold: to get in on the ground floor of an industry that is set to swell into a multi-billion dollar beast once it goes nationwide, and to combat dwindling alcohol sales. Some reports show that retail booze sales are on the decline in places where legal weed is available. In some cases, the option of bud over booze is even creating a reduction in drunk driving accidents. The alcohol companies, even if they are like Sazerac and just noodling around for a while to gauge the situation, are watching the public become less enthused about drunken shenanigans and on a quest for a healthier alternative. For some of them, this means adapt or die.
In the case of Sazerac, however, the decision to get into edibles may have been a better move than creating a THC-infused beverage. These products, while believed to be what was going to provide a significant boost for the cannabis trade, are struggling to find a customer base. Aurora Cannabis CEO Terry Booth said earlier this year that “The proven market is certainly not in beverage.”
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