By Emily Ledger
Cannabis is undoubtedly having a moment. In some of the biggest markets around the world, both CBD and THC – the most prevalent of the cannabinoids found in the plant – are being added to all manner of products. But could Cannabis ‘drinkables’ soon be more popular than ‘edibles’?
In countries such as Canada, which launched ‘Cannabis 2.0‘ in October, and a growing number of states in the USA, Cannabis offers big opportunities to new and existing businesses. And in no area is this truer than the food and drinks industry.
Even in markets like the UK, where recreational Cannabis remains illegal, CBD drinks and edibles are seeing massive growth. The development of nano-emulsion technology has allowed companies to create more effective and, importantly, better tasting formulations.
Cannabis Drinkables and Nano-emulsion Technology
Prior to this development, many companies struggled to disguise the ‘weedy’ taste in their products. However, nano-emulsion makes it possible to create a tasteless and scentless water-soluble solution. This allows cannabinoids to be added to existing drink formulations in a largely unnoticeable manner.
The nano-emulsion market itself is also expected to see continued growth over the coming years. According to Transparency Market Research (TMR), the industry is predicted to be worth up to $14.91 billion by the end of 2025. This is up from just $6.87 billion in 2016.
Nano-emulsion technology has been used for years in industries such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. However, it is thought that this growth could be largely down to the growing Cannabis industry, and vice versa.
Potential Consumers for Cannabis Drinkables
CBD in the UK
There are two categories of Cannabis drinkables – CBD and THC. In the UK, where THC remains a controlled substance, CBD beverages have exploded. A large number of start-ups and more established CBD companies have taken advantage of increased interest in the ingredient.
CBD offers a starting point for many consumers who may be new to Cannabis, as the cannabinoid does not cause a high like its cousin, THC. However, that is not to say that this category is not enjoying similar popularity elsewhere.
Cannabis Drinkables in North America
Recent research by consumer analysts Mintel showed that around 59% of Canadians are currently using, or are interested in using, Cannabis products. Further, around two thirds (66%) or open non-users are interested in ingestible products – that is edibles and drinkables.
In Canada, and US states that have legalised adult-use recreational Cannabis, THC beverages are also on the rise. Alongside edibles, Cannabis drinks allow a reliable and discrete delivery method which bypasses many consumers’ health concerns.
For example, Mintel’s research indicates that three of the most common reasons non-users quote for not using Cannabis are the smell (37%), smoke (36%), and health concerns (28%).
Edibles Vs Drinkables
Many Cannabis (CBD and THC) companies opt to launch both edibles – usually in the form of gummies or chocolate – and drinks. However, a growing number of larger, well-established beverage companies are partnering up with Cannabis firms.
Take, for example, Heineken-owned Lagunitas, who has teamed up with Cannacraft; Or Constellation Brands – the parent company of Corona and Modelo beer – who has teamed up with one of the world’s biggest Cannabis companies, Canopy Growth.
Such partnerships indicate that Cannabis drinkables could soon become the most popular of all products in the growing Cannabis markets.