CHICAGO -- Cannabis is increasingly on the minds of retailers as a growing number of products made with cannabidiol (CBD), the nonpsychoactive component of cannabis or hemp, have headed into stores in 2018. Beer and beverage companies such as Heineken USA and the Coca-Cola Co. have expressed interest in cannabis-enhanced drinks, while other companies such as the Asian American Trade Association Council and Swissx Oil & Confectionery Inc. have released oral CBD strips and dispensers. What’s more, the Farm Bill passed in December 2018 legalized the production of hemp, further thrusting CBD into the spotlight.
But it appears there’s one CBD category with c-store potential that’s sliding under the radar: candy.
In 2018, chocolate candies made with CBD accounted for 61% of the total chocolate market in Colorado, according to Boulder, Colo.-based research firm BDS Analytics. And in January 2018, edibles containing CBD garnered 17% of edible sales in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon. Within 10 months, that increased to 25%.
Current CBD players include manufacturers Platinum X CBD, which showcased its CBD Lollipops at the 7-Eleven FOAC Holiday Tradeshow in November 2018; Diamond CBD, which makes CBD gummies, cake pops and chocolate; and Cannabinoid Creations, whose CBD candy line includes Hemp Hard Candy.
Once they arrive in c-stores, CBD candies—like all other CBD products—should sit at the register, where they will intrigue customers who will want to touch the products and read their labels, says Ryan Ulanch, chief strategic officer of Cannadips, a full-spectrum hemp and CBD producer based in Humboldt County, Calif. “People will say ‘I’ve heard of [CBD] before, but what is it?’ ” he said. “You often see supplement-type products around the register, so it’s a good fit for CBDs too.”
Ulanch says staple candy products such as chocolates, gummies and lollipops become part of an entirely different category once made with CBD. “It’s not a regular stick of gum we’re talking about,” he said. “There’s a whole new area in c-stores about to be filled, and you don’t see that very often.”
It's also important for c-store retailers to provide an array of CBD products that diversify the new category, such as tinctures and vaporizers, Ulanch said.
“Like with any plan-o-gram, [retailers] are filling a niche,” he said. “They should educate their customers on their products’ price points, branding, messaging and how CBD is consumed.”