Business

Calif. Drives Infused-Beverages Growth

By Willis Jacobson

Infused beverages are making edibles the fastest-growing U.S. cannabis product category, and California is leading the way.

Those were among the takeaways from a webinar focused on the U.S. and Canadian infused-beverage markets hosted Dec. 8 by BDSA, a cannabis-focused data and analytics firm. Participants included executives from Cann and Lagunitas/Hi-Fi Hops, both among the top-five selling infused-beverage brands in California.

Here’s a look into the data:

  • The top North American markets for overall dispensary sales, in order, are California, Canada, Colorado, Florida and Illinois, said Kelly Nielsen, vice president of insights and analytics with BDSA. “We expect the size of [the markets in] Canada and California to be about the same come 2025,” with both around $6.1B in sales, she said.
  • Edibles, including beverages, currently make up about 15% of overall sales in U.S. dispensaries, but that number is growing, according to BDSA. The edible category is projected to grow about 140% over the next five years, with the overall industry expected to grow about 120% in the same span.
  • Infused-beverage consumers prefer products with less than 10mg of THC per serving, according to BDSA. In California alone, sales of products with 10mg or less per serving have grown by 16% compared to 2019.

Luke Anderson, co-founder of Los Angeles-based Cann, said his company has also found that consumers prefer lower dosages, a stark shift from the early days of legalization when he said 100mg products were “all the buyer wanted to talk to you about.”

  • “We’ve had a lot of undoing that we’ve needed to deal with,” Anderson said, referring to a need to get California consumers to stop valuing infused beverages on a per-THC mg basis. “We don’t think dollar per percent of ABV in alcohol.”
  • Per BDSA, the top-selling U.S. infused-beverage brands from August through October were: Keef (based in Colorado), Dixie (Colorado), Cann (California), Ripple (Colorado) and Lagunitas/Hi-Fi Hops (California). 
  • Sales of infused beverages are expected to jump higher than other segments over the holidays, according to BDSA. In 2019, infused beverages saw a 45% jump in the week leading up to Christmas, more than topicals (43%), other edibles (36%) and vape products (25%).
  • That growth can be attributed, at least in part, to the social nature of drinking at holiday gatherings, Nielsen said.
  • Even with the pandemic likely to cut down on physical get-togethers, infused beverages could remain a popular choice. “I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use a little help de-stressing during the holidays,” Nielsen said.