Legal Cannabis Brings Opportunities for Snack and Confectionery Category

The continued legalization trend of cannabis in the U.S. presents big opportunities for the American food and beverage market, particularly for the snack and confectionery category.

Within the U.S., Nielsen data shows that sales of both salty and sweet snacks have increased over the past 52 weeks (ending April 27, 2019) with salty snacks reaching sales of USD29.9bn and sweet snacks hitting sales of USD6.5bn. But could the “munchies” driven by marijuana use increase sales further?

Nielsen explains that candy and snack sales are on the rise within cannabis-legal states.

The confectionery growth rate in US census divisions where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use was of 2%, while the growth rate in areas where cannabis remains illegal, was only 1.3%. Total snacking growth rate in US census divisions where cannabis has been legalized was 7.2%; while on the other side of the law, the growth rate was only 6%.

Marijuana consumption has been clinically and anecdotally shown to increase consumers’ appetite and enjoyment of food. And sales data from within the U.S. Census divisions where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use supports the munchies’ effect. Nielsen data shows that growth rates for both candy and snacks are rising faster in these areas than in geographies where cannabis has yet to be legalized for recreational use.

For manufacturers and retailers, American consumers’ hunger for snacks alongside legal cannabis consumption can present an opportunity for cross-selling. And it’s not just cannabis alone that could affect the industry. Edible hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) products, which include the cannabinoid compound found in marijuana with little to no THC, present an USD6bn opportunity for the food and beverage industry.

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