2023 was a great year for edibles, which accounts for a growing segment of the market. What were the most popular edible products, and what should we expect moving forward? Read on.
What counts as a cannabis edible?
The term ‘edible’ implies that the product in question, is put in the mouth and swallowed. However, this can be accounted for differently. For example, oils and tinctures are put in the mouth, but they are rarely referred to as edibles. At the same time, pills certainly aren’t food, but are often included in the edibles category. So its important when talking about edibles, to define the parameters of the definition.
Edibles are most often thought of as food products. And whereas this category used to consist of only fat-based products that THC could be directly leached into through butter use; the process of emulsions now makes it possible to create edible products out of just about anything, which has expanded the market to include tons of food products.
Edibles do come with one of the bigger issues related to the weed industry, and it’s the one concerning increasing THC levels. While this is also relevant to concentrate products like oil, and vapes, and even applies to cannabis flower itself; the edibles issues is an intensified version. This is because it involves a wait time for action, which often leads to people consuming more than they should.
As cannabis effects last much longer when taken as an edible, this can also mean a prolonged period of sickness for those who do go overboard. This is less likely to happen with smoking or vaping, since the effects are felt immediately, and the user knows more quickly how the product will make them feel.
Edibles used to be a fringe part of the industry; but with the start of legalized markets, the use of them, and corresponding product offerings, have skyrocketed. As with the whole industry, the fact that so much of the market is a black market, means its hard to say the overall market share of a particular segment. All data relates to legal sales. However, as buying trends shouldn’t be different between the two markets (most people never know they’re in an illegal dispensary); this data can shed light on the overall market.
What edibles do people like most?
Let’s start by looking at which types of edibles get the most traction. In this case, the information comes from Statista, and edibles include the following: candy, chocolate (as a separate category from candy), infused foods, beverages, pills, and other. So, though this breakdown includes pills, it doesn’t involve oils or tinctures.
According to the Statista breakdown, candy is the most popular category, accounting for 74% of the edibles market. This makes sense as gummies are wildly popular. Next up is chocolate, which could be thought of as candy. Separately, it accounts for 8% of the market. This is the same as pills, which also account for 8%. Next is cannabis beverages, which make up 6%, followed by infused foods with 3%, and other products, at 1%. If candy and chocolate are put together, they account for 82% of the market.
Infused products include literally any other food besides candy that has THC infused into it. So this can be ketchup, or chips, or beef jerky, or salad dressing. Some of these might be less convenient, or less easy to dose, than a basic gummy or chocolate square. In terms of the category ‘other,’ it is unclear what falls into it, but whatever does, only takes a small amount of the market.
Another Statista report showed something else interesting; that most edibles users prefer smaller doses closer to 5mg. In fact, 5mg was more popular than 10mg edibles, which were preferred by 17% of users. This could indicate that while illegal dispensaries advertise edibles with extremely high amounts of THC, that this might not actually be preferred by consumers.
The value of the edibles market
Once again we’re dealing with the idea that much of what gets sold, is actually on the black market; for which we don’t have figures, and which doesn’t play into the value of a legal market. Just to be clear on this point; while dispensaries can be found all over the place in any legal state, nearly every state also has a massive deficit in legal dispensaries. This indicates that much of what is sold, isn’t part of the legal market.
A Global Market Insights report from October of this year, stated that the cannabis edibles market was valued at just over $8 billion in 2022. According to this report, the market is estimated to experience a compounded annual growth rate of 16.5% from 2023-2032. It’s expected to be worth over $37 billion by 2032, according to this company.
Estimates in this industry should always be taken with a grain of salt, however. Just remember CBD was meant to have skyrocketed in use by now, and in reality, this didn’t happen beyond a point; and certainly not outside medical markets. Plus, as this only pertains to a legal market, growth of the black market, or a divergence from the legal market, could make this number way smaller; even if edible use increases.
For now, Global Market Insights gives the statistic that edibles should take up about 17% of the global cannabis market by 2032. It also says that as of 2022, that just over 50% of edibles are THC dominant, globally. Also for 2022, GMI says that cannabis baked good products accounted for $4.27 billion in market value globally; while in North America, the entire edibles industry was valued at $3.6 billion in 2022.
As a testament to the lack of ability for consistent numbers – due mostly to these being state industries; different companies have differing numbers for market size, and for growth expectations. For example, GlobeNewsWire estimated the 2022 market to be bigger, at $9.6 billion. It gives an expectation for 2030, not 2032, but puts the number at $27.2 billion.
Edibles compared to other cannabis products
How much of the overall market share do edibles take up? According to Cannabis Business Times from December 26th of this year, edibles account for 13% of sales, while flower accounts for 40%, and vapes take up 25%.
This is a couple percentage points higher than an estimate from 2020, which put the edibles market at 11% of the total cannabis market. This came from an analysis of seven states by the company Headset, and included data from California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, only. According to that analysis, edibles use rose to 11% in 2020, from 10.65% in 2019.
There aren’t too many other companies giving a statistic here. Likely because it involves accumulating the data of different states, since there isn’t federal oversight. On a state level, there is also information to consider, which adds to the overall picture. Like for Connecticut, which reported that in November 2023, 12% of sales were from edibles, while 50% and 31% came from flower and vapes, respectively. This is close to the 13% given by Cannabis Business Times.
Edibles are eyed as a growing trend; and the increase in expected market size indicates that its thought the market will rise even more, and quite profusely. We’ll have to wait for next year’s numbers to see how fast this happens, or if some new trend comes up first, to offset this current one.
It’s been an interesting year in the world of weed; with tons of legal changes, new products, interesting research, and changing trends. 2024 is sure to bring us even more; in the cannabis edibles market, and beyond. So, here’s to having a safe, happy, and healthy new year; complete with all the weed products you could ever dream of.
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