The edibles market in Canada remains relatively small, though market share is growing as more products make their way to retail markets and prices begin to come down.
In 2020, the first full year of edibles being available, 4.2% of total cannabis sales were for cannabis edibles, for a total of $109 million. On a quarterly basis, we see clearer evidence of growth, from under 3% of market share in Q1 2020 to 5% in Q4.
This scale of growth is to be expected, as edibles products did not even begin to hit shelves until the end of 2019, and hadn’t hit their stride until the middle or end of 2020 as new companies began offering an array of chocolates, gummies, beverages, infused herbal teas, and more.
Edible Cannabis Sales and Packaged Inventory
Although baked goods are often associated with the edibles category, in Canada their market share has been very small compared to confectionaries like chocolates, gummies and even hard candies. Baked goods like cookies and brownies exist, but only from a few producers with a few SKUs, and many of these products appeared early on but did not last as there was little consumer demand. It would appear the days of the weed brownie are waning, at least when it comes to what consumers want to purchase in the commercial market. Their popularity as a home-made product may continue to hold.
Edibles were not a part of the initial cannabis regulations on October 17, 2018, but rather, part of a second round of regulations that came into force a year later on October 17, 2019. Edibles in Canada are also limited to no more than 10mg THC per package. This means you can either have one edible product that is 10mg THC or any division thereof that adds up to 10mg THC—for example: 5 cookies in one package that are 2mg THC each.
For beverages, which fall in the edibles category, there is also a public possession limit of 2.1 litres, which means you cannot buy more than that amount at a time This is the equivalent of the 30 grams public possession limit for dried cannabis, with 1 gram of dried cannabis being the equivalent of 70 ml.
These limits are similar to those seen in most US states, with typical dosage limits of 5-10mg THC. But unlike Canada, most of these states allow much larger amounts per package, meaning that in a state like Colorado, for example, you can buy a package containing edibles with a combined total of 100mg THC divided up into 10 servings.
This difference in how many milligrams of THC can be in a package of edibles may be the reason sales of cannabis edibles in the US are higher, although even in those US markets the overall market share remains relatively low. For example, based on numbers from cannabis marketing and data company Headset, edibles market share in 2019 was just over 10% and just over 11% in 2020, or about double what we currently see in Canada.
Health Canada undertook a stakeholder survey late last year seeking input on different aspects of the cannabis regulations, including those possession limits for edibles, which included beverages. Many producers contend that raising this limit will mean consumers will find it easier to buy cannabis beverages, potentially leading to increased sales.
No such changes to the current 10mg THC limit for edibles is expected any time soon, although such changes could also increase sales in the future.
In the meantime, producers will have to continue to innovate in terms of the types of edibles and beverages that are available, as well as the prices they are offered at.
Other interesting products that are in the edibles category that consumers may see in the coming years include infused fruit, more rapid-onset beverages, and edibles that can impart an effect in minutes rather than the 1-3 hours typical for a traditional edible product.