In an industry as fast-moving and competitive as legal cannabis, identifying rising categories and form factors is a valuable tool for brands and retailers who want to stay ahead of the pack. One top product trend going into 2023 was the rise of solventless cannabis products, particularly in the dabbable concentrate category, but also in the vape category. While solventless products make up a relatively small share of total cannabis sales, an analysis of BDSA Retail Sales Tracking data shows that the solventless category is primed for premiumization and growth in legal cannabis markets.
Cannabis Consumer Dynamics in the Solventless Category
In the cannabis industry, solventless is the term used to refer to the broad range of cannabis extracts produced without the use of volatile solvents. Among this banner of solventless are products such as pressed kief, bubble hash, and rosin. Solventless products may have held a very small place in the legal cannabis industry in the past, but they have grown to take up a bigger role in recent years. This growth is primarily reflected in retail data showing a rise in solventless product sales, but trended consumer data in certain states also has started to show more consumers in mature markets reporting recent consumption of solventless form factors.
In Colorado, where rosin holds the greatest share of dabbable sales of any BDSA-tracked market, the share of inhalable consumers who report past six-month consumption of rosin almost doubled between late 2020 and late 2022. Hash products also show significant usage rates in the Colorado market, with almost a third of all inhalable consumers reporting consumption of hash in late 2022.
Solventless on the Rise in the Dabbable Category
Solventless concentrates are a broad category by themselves, including the oldest forms of cannabis extracts that have been around for thousands of years such as traditional hash, as well as some of the products that utilize much newer manufacturing technology, like live rosin. In legal cannabis markets, solventless products have gained the most ground in the dabbable category. Across all BDSA tracked markets (AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, MA, MD, MI, MO, NV, NJ, NY, OR and PA), solventless products made up 16% of monthly dabbable dollar sales in January 2023.
The biggest solventless subcategory by a mile is rosin, making up 14% of dollar dabbable sales in January 2023. Rosin has seen impressive growth over the past two years, with the subcategory’s share of total dabbable sales doubling between January 2021 and January 2023. More mature markets such as California and Colorado saw rosin making up an even greater share, with rosin making up 21% of dabbable sales in California, and 22% of the dabbable category in Colorado.
After rosin, bubble hash is the second largest solventless dabbable, making up ~1% of dollar dabbable sales in January 2023, while the hash subcategory made up <1% of the dabbable category.
While form factors like rosin and bubble have become most established in the dabbable category, solventless products have also grown their share of sales in other sectors of the industry.
Solventless products may be newer to the vape category than the dabbable category, however BDSA Retail Sales Tracking still shows that rosin vapes have been on the rise. Between January 2022 and January 2023, rosin vape cartridges have grown from a 1% share of dollar vape cartridge sales to a 4% share of vape cartridge sales. Rosin disposables have also seen modest growth, from <1% of dollar disposable sales in January 2022 to 2% in January 2023.
Like in the dabbable category, solventless vapes make up a much larger proportion of sales in more mature markets. In Colorado, rosin cartridges made up 15% of vape cartridge sales in January 2023, up from 9% in January 2022. Rosin cartridges have been showing strong potential in the California market as well, growing from <1% of vape cartridge sales in January 2022 to 5% of cartridge sales in January 2023.
Pricing Dynamics with Solventless Cannabis Products
Price compression was a major concern across legal cannabis markets in 2022, with BDSA Retail Sales Tracking data showing that equivalent average retail prices (EQ ARPs) across mature BDSA-tracked markets (CA, CO, NV, OR and MI) fell by 26% between January 2022 and January 2023, with prices for dabbable concentrates falling a lesser 16% over this same period. Average retail prices for dabbables landed at $19.40/g in January 2023.
Between January 2022 and January 2023, EQ ARPs for rosin dabbables in mature markets saw slightly greater declines than the greater dabbable category, falling 18% over this period. However, the category pricing dynamics reveal the strength and potential for premiumization with solventless products. even with these price declines, rosin dabbables still have held an ARP of $35/gram, ~83% higher than that of the total dabbable category, and ~73% higher than that of the live resin dabbable category, which has been seen as the default premium dabbable category in the past.
Other dabable form factors also show their strength in different ways when it comes to pricing, with bubble hash and hash having seen significantly lower price declines than the aggregated dabbable category. The hash category saw only a 9% decline in ARP (across mature markets including CA, CO, NV, OR and MI) between January 2022 and January 2023, while the bubble hash category saw only an 11% decline.
Solventless Cannabis Basket Analytics
While they may make up a smaller share of concentrate categories than some other form factors, BDSA Basket Analytics consistently show that solventless products drive higher basket sizes at retail. In the California market (which is representative of mature markets as a whole) in January 2023, baskets containing rosin dabbables had an average basket size of $56.64, 46% higher than the average basket size for baskets containing all dabbable products. Rosin cartridges similarly drive higher basket sizes at retail, with an average basket size of $55.59 in California, 22% higher than the average basket size for baskets containing all types of vape cartridges.
Basket Analytics data also show that rosin has seen increasing basket penetration over the past year. In California, rosin went from being present in 10.5% of baskets in January 2022, to over 13% of baskets in January 2023.
Summing up the Solventless Opportunity
For cannabis businesses looking for emerging subcategories or paths to premiumization, solventless products, particularly in the dabbable category, are worth a close look. Solventless products have been on the rise, and have been shown to drive high prices at retail, and increase overall basket size, making them a valuable piece of the concentrate market in a time of continued price compression.