Cannabis Beverages Could Go Mainstream

IRI expert expects the category to grow into mainstream retail
CBD and Beer
Photograph: Shutterstock

CHICAGO — While cannabis beverages are not mainstream yet, Larry Levin hopes that will change in the next few years.

Currently cannabis beverages are only 6% of sales in dispensaries, but they are showing great growth, said Levin, executive vice president of consumer and shopper marking at Chicago-based research firm IRI.

Some brands Levin highlighted are already making headwinds. Two Roots, from San Diego-based Cannabiniers, has released nonalcohol, cannabis-infused craft beers. Denver-based Stillwater Brands sells Ripple—a fast-acting dissolvable powder made with cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that can be added to any liquid.

CBD food and beverage dollar sales in mainstream channels grew 11% for the 52 weeks ending on Nov. 1, 2020, according to IRI. But convenience stores still have a way to go to grow their category share.

The c-store channel in 2019 accounted for about 4% of CBD consumer packaged goods dollar sales compared to other channels; however, that number is expected to grow slightly to 5% by 2024, according to data from IRI partner BDS Analytics.  

“We’re recognizing stiff competition and we’ve got to intercept people that are going to other boxes to buy their product when we can offer a great set within c-store,” Levin said.

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