Consumers Trust Grocers on CBD

Industry saw 123% increase in retailers offering products
Photograph: Shutterstock

Halfway through 2020, more brick-and-mortar retailers than ever are carrying products infused with cannabidiol (CBD). As of April 2020, Nielsen reports every major drug chain, more than 65% of convenience stores and more than 50% of grocery stores were carrying at least one CBD product. For the grocery channel, that marked a 123% increase in retailers offering CBD since first-quarter 2019.

As states such as Virginia, Texas and Florida continue to pass CBD-friendly legislation, Miguel Martin, president and CEO of Natick, Mass.-based Reliva CBD, sees an opening for grocers to leverage the channel’s reputation as a trusted source for other health and wellness items.

“We’re hearing from customers that they trust what’s on a retailer’s shelf,” he says. “There is a huge opportunity for grocers in particular to leverage that momentum to provide vetted, compliant and trusted CBD brands.”

With a seemingly endless list of products infused with CBD, retailers must consider what’s actually selling. Data from New York-based Nielsen shows two subcategories account for more than 90% of sales: topicals (just under 50%) and tinctures/capsules (43%). Edible products account for just 1 percent of grocery sales.

However, the data on what types of CBD consumers are actually using skews a little different: 60% report having used a topical, 58% have used tinctures, 40% capsules and 55% have used an edible CBD product, according to Nielsen.

The reason for the discrepancy? Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asserted its authority over ingestible CBD products (but not yet established a regulatory pathway for these products), many brick-and-mortar retailers have avoided the segment all together.

“Topicals have much stronger sales due to it being far more widely distributed among chains since it is non-ingestible,” says Rick Maturo, associate director of client services for Nielsen’s cannabis practice.


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