Last month, Brightfield Group released its “U.S. Cannabis Distribution Report: Cannabis Candy May 2021,” a fitting prelude to the month of June, which is designated as Candy Month by the National Confectioners Association, the trade group that monitors and advocates for the confection industry.
While cannabis candies are not to be consumed like candy, the report revealed that the industries share some similarities. Flavor innovation is thriving in both as well as the desire for consumers to either take a break or recharge with something sweet.
Of Brightfield’s list of top eight cannabis candies by share of shelf, three edibles are made by Smokiez in the flavors blackberry, sour blue raspberry and sour watermelon. Wana Wellness’ assorted hybrid sour gummies make the list, as do Kiva Confections‘ wild berry Camino gummies, Kushy Punch hybrid raspberry gummies and Kanha blue raspberry gummies. Wyld CBD’s pomegranate 1:1 THC:CBD gummies also made the list.
Brightfield narrows cannabis candy positioning down to two types. Products that help folks unwind are the most common – helping consumers with relaxation, sleep and stress relief, and claiming 68% of retail display space, according to the Brightfield report.
Of these, relaxation rules the roost, controlling nearly half of all cannabis candy space with a whopping 40% shelf share. Sleep is next at 19%.
Another 22% of the cannabis candy real estate is taken by products geared to activate energy, focus, exercise or creativity. The researchers allot the final 10% to a hodgepodge simply labeled “other.”
Judging by the flavors in that list, innovation is running strong with CBD edibles. A random peak at gummy brand products online yielded flavors that include huckleberry, elderberry, blood orange, sour tropical fruit and green apple.
In its “Cannabis Candy” report, Brightfield noted the top growing cannabis candy flavors from March through May. Those flavors are yuzu (176%), lychee (110%), elderberry (48%), cinnamon (21%) and grape (20%).
If all the innovation seems familiar, it may be because the same creativity is driving ahead in the mainstream confection space. The industry is meeting this week in Indianapolis after the pandemic scuttled last year’s National Confectioners Association’s Sweets & Snacks Expo.
Last year’s show had planned to feature a gallery for CBD confections. While cannabis candies are not be a part of the three-day 2021 expo, which wraps up today, NCA Senior VP of Public Affairs & Communications Christopher Gindlesperger told an expo-kickoff media call that the idea is alive for the 2022 Sweets & Snacks Expo.
Gindlesperger also put the brakes on any worries about blurring of the lines between the mainstream candy and cannabis confection shelves.
“The one thing that I think is really important to note in all of this is that when you add a CBD or another cannabis-derivative ingredient to confectionery, it’s no longer chocolate and candy,” he observed. “ … and a way to think about this is kind of think about gummy vitamins and nutraceuticals that are edible. Those products are found in a different aisle of the grocery store or retail outlet. You don’t go to that aisle looking for candy.”
That fact is made clear in Brightfield’s data on the growing THC:CBD ratios in cannabis candy. The market is shaking out two opposing consumer types when it comes to the desire for THC in edibles. Products with a 10:1 THC:CBD ratio grew month over month at an average 173% with the 1:3 products next at 72% growth.
Considering that CBD products are restricted to adult consumers, keeping cannabis-derived edibles separate from candy bars is good for both industries. And consumers.