The marketplace for cannabis-derived products continues to grow. First came cannabidiol (CBD) oils, topicals and edibles, which quickly developed into a high-demand category. Now, manufacturers are introducing minor, or entourage, cannabinoid compounds that purport to elicit many similar beneficial effects as CBDs.
The two substances gaining attention right now are cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN), and convenience store owners and category managers have to decide if it makes sense for their businesses to make room for them on store shelves.
First, it’s helpful to know what they are and how they differ from CBD. All three substances are cannabinoid compounds, but CBG is a decarboxylated form of cannabigerolic acid, which scientists have labeled as the parent molecule for all cannabinoids. CBN is a byproduct of the hemp plant’s aging process that oxidizes THC, the substance that produces a “high” reaction in marijuana use. Its psychoactive effects are diminished as a result. Researchers are probing both substances for therapeutic benefits for conditions such as glaucoma, inflammation, convulsions and anxiety. Producers and proponents also link CBG and CBN with general wellness, which could bode well for convenience stores.
Over the past several years, consumers have become more interested in and willing to pay more for better-for-you (BFY) products, from snacks and beverages to prepared foodservice items to natural health and beauty remedies. After the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that opened the door for retailers to sell cannabis-derived products, curiosity as to how compounds like CBD, CBG and CBN fit into that BFY profile has bloomed —just look at the record-breaking success of CBD. Although the CBD category was affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 when sales migrated online, analysts forecast a very healthy future. Brightfield has estimated the market could collect $16 billion by 2026. What’s more, Management Science Associates Inc., states that nearly 30% of consumers make their CBD purchases at convenience stores.
However, that projection doesn’t account for sales of CBG or CBN because they’re still so new. Only a small number of vape pens, tinctures and capsules featuring CBG or CBN has been released for retail thus far. The limited exposure may cause some c-stores to hold off on expanding cannabinoid inventory until there’s more data gauging consumer acceptance of the entourage compounds.
That said, market watchers express optimism based on news that manufacturers are gearing up for new lines of CBG/CBN products. Stores can expect to see the compounds incorporated into a variety of items and available for sale over the next few years.