With companies creating everything from sleep-enhancing pills to brownies, butters, carbonated lemon-lime drinks and bags of caramel corn, the edibles marketplace is the most dynamic marketplace within cannabis. It’s not the biggest — that’s flower — nor the fastest-growing – that’s concentrates, but no other large cannabis category competes with edibles’ range of product diversity. It’s a cannabis cornucopia.
Throughout 2018, some types of edibles continue to earn impressive consumer interest and retail sales growth, however, others are experiencing a decline in demand.
Edibles may be a cornucopia, but cannabis as a whole is a competitive market; clearly, not every kind of food infused with weed widely resonates with increasingly savvy cannabis consumers.
We analyzed our comprehensive retail sales tracking platform, GreenEdge™, for snapshots into what now is surging with particular muscle in Colorado, Oregon and California. Pot brownies? They stood as shorthand for “marijuana edible” for decades. But the marketplace has moved far beyond the chewy squares of cocoa deliciousness. Between January and August of this year in Colorado and Oregon, sales of pot brownies reached $3.4 million, growing by 8 percent compared to the same period last year. That’s OK growth, but a shadow of growth among all edibles in those two states during the same period, which saw growth of 24 percent.
Meanwhile, plenty of other types of edibles far outpaced the overall edibles average for growth. And growth for different product types is not uniform between states we track.
What kinds of edibles are rising today? Let’s dig in.
First, we’ll look at Colorado and Oregon, both of which had adult-use markets during both 2017 and 2018. Then we’ll study California for 2018 only. Since the regulatory regime was starkly different last year, comparing this year to last for the Golden State is not a fruitful exercise.
Colorado & Oregon
While chocolate bars suffered year-over-year declines in sales during the first eight months of this year in Colorado and Oregon, chocolate pieces — products like boxes of truffles — rose rapidly. The sales escalation was especially dramatic in Colorado, which saw 135 percent growth for the product, on sales of $6.9 million. Beaver State consumers embraced chocolate pieces too with sales of $3.75 million during the period, which represented growth of 84 percent.
Tinctures, which normally come in dropper bottles, were a negligible category several years ago. But their popularity has risen steadily over the years, and interest continues to spike. Coloradans bought $13.8 million worth of tinctures during the first eight months of 2018, rpresenting growth of 29 percent. But in Oregon, which has an edibles marketplace less than half the size of Colorado’s ($70.9 million for Oregon, compared to $166.25 for Colorado), sales of tinctures were higher, at $14.6 million. And growth hit 95 percent. Oregonians love their tinctures!
The mighty gummy leads edibles sales in all states. Nationwide, cannabis consumers have crowned gummies as the king of edibles. With sales of $66.1 million during the period, growth for gummies hit 34 percent in Colorado compared to last year. Unquestionably, this is the biggest-selling edibles category in the Centennial State, and has been for years. Yet it still achieves huge gains in growth Y-O-Y. And growth was even higher in Oregon, where sales of $28.2 million represented growth of 85 percent.
You could say that Oregon is in the midst of a pills “movement.” Sales of the sub-category hit $1.39 million during the period – a 76 percent growth spurt. In Colorado, in fact, pills experienced negative growth during the period.
Sorry, the story again revolves around Oregon. Oregonians spent $1.8 million on syrup during the period, which represented growth of 560 percent. Like pills, it’s a small market, but it’s big enough for retailers to take notice and plan accordingly.
Edibles sales overall have more than doubled in California since adult-use sales began on January 1 of this year, rising from $18 million in January to $37.5 million in August — that’s growth of 108 percent. A caveat: Measuring growth in California is tricky due to the dramatic pivot from medical to adult-use. Dispensaries shut down, brands dissolved, and retail volatility characterized the market. Still, GreenEdge accurately captures sales trends that have evolved during the course of the year, regardless of what is happening on the regulatory front.
Gummies may be the largest edible sub-category, but it still saw the most dramatic growth. Sales of $4.3 million in January rose to $11 million in August, representing growth of 155 percent between the two months. They’re tasty. They’re easy to consume. And they fly off the shelves in the Golden State.
These weed-in-a-bottle products spiked by 143 percent between January and August. Sales of the potent drops during the California’s first month of the adult-use market hit $3.7 million. In August they reached $9 million. That’s a whole lot of tincturing.
Just as pills eventually caught on in other adult-use markets, like Oregon and Colorado, they are gaining traction in California. Consumers spent $1 million on pills in January, but in August sales rose 270 percent to $3.7 million.
Flower is king, and concentrates sales are exploding across the lands, but edibles will always own a place in the hearts and wallets of cannabis consumers old and new.