Canadians have a big appetite for cannabis edibles: Survey

Mintel analyst says food manufacturers can capitalize on the growth of cannabis—even if they’re not in the edibles space
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It’s high time for cannabis edibles, which recently hit the legal market in Canada.

A new survey from Mintel found more than one quarter (27%) of Canadian consumers used cannabis in the first six months of legalization (Oct. 2018 to March 2019) and nearly one third (32%) of non-cannabis users say they’re open to trying it. Nearly half of consumers (48%) who haven’t tried cannabis, but are open to it, are interested in edibles.

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“There is great potential there because so many people are interested in ,” said Scott Stewart, senior research analyst at Mintel, in an interview with Canadian Grocer. “If we look at current users, 44% had used edibles in the first six months of cannabis legalization. And that’s before had even hit the market, so they either made the product themselves or found other avenues. It shows that there is a familiarity and a demand.”

Among those who have consumed edibles or are interested in edibles, the top types they’re interested in are: baked goods (66%), chocolate (60%) and candy (50%). “That’s particularly relevant for food and beverage companies that are already in the space of those sweet treat, snack-type foods,” says Stewart.

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However, for those that want to expand into the cannabis space, there are big barriers. To start, under the Cannabis Act, edibles need to be made in a separate facility from other food production. In addition, only licensed stores can sell the products, and the rules around marketing and packaging are strict.

Food manufacturers that want to capitalize on the cannabis market, but don’t want to make the investment or be mired in regulations, can approach it “from the fringe,” says Stewart. “And what I mean by that is what we typically call the ‘munchies.’”

READ: Edibles legalization fraught with hurdles, companies say

In the survey, 83% of current users say that during or after using cannabis, they have an increased appetite for a certain type of food. The top foods desired by cannabis users are salty snacks like chips and popcorn (51%), baked goods (41%) and pizza (38%).

“If you can associate your brand or product with that user experience... you’re able to benefit from the growth of the market in Canada, but you’re not beholden to the same restrictions from a production standpoint,” says Stewart. “You have to be a bit more delicate about marketing because you can’t come right out with an ad that says ‘use this while you use cannabis.’ Those rules still apply, but there’s more freedom in terms of inferences and suggestions.”

What’s the appeal of cannabis for Canadians today, anyway? While nearly half (46%) of cannabis consumers use it to have fun, even more use it as a wellness product. More than half use cannabis to relax (62%) and relieve stress/anxiety (54%). Two in five consumers use cannabis to improve sleep (42%) and their mood (39%).


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