Nonfood

Topical CBD Products Outpace Edibles, Says FMI

Annual Speaks report finds beauty and bath are the bomb
Photograph: Shutterstock

While many food retail stores are selling topical CBD products, such as lotions, soaps and bath bombs (76%), far fewer are offering shoppers CBD dietary supplements, pet products or edible items, finds FMI’s recently released The Food Retailing Industry Speaks, 2020.

The 71st annual report, which is based on surveys of 37,000 U.S. food stores, was conducted and released later this year than in the past due to COVID, providing authors of this year’s report, Steve Markeson and David Orgel, additional detail on retailer perspectives in 2020.

Although passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production and cultivation of hemp and its derivatives, including cannabidiol (CBD), at the federal level, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “is still actively working to create a pathway to market for CBD products,” say the report’s authors. “In the meantime, many states have moved forward with their own CBD regulations and consumer demand for CBD products has continued to grow.”

A closer look at the numbers shows interest in CBD expansion on the part of food retailers who have yet to dabble, but widespread adoption, at least with edibles, is slower to evolve. In addition to the 76% of food retail stores selling topical CBD products, “some food retail stores (18%) who are not currently doing so are likely to sell these topical CBD products. But far fewer are offering their shoppers CBD dietary supplements (9%), pet products (6%), food or edible products (4%) or smoke or vape products (<0.5%),” finds FMI.

However, FMI also notes that other food retailers who are not currently doing so are likely to offer their shoppers CBD pet products (40%), dietary supplements (33%), food or edible products (18%) or smoke or vape products (11%),” perhaps indicating that certain retailers are keeping an open mind when it comes to CBD expansion.

As to where CBD is best merchandised in-store, the majority of retailers (57%) say the health and beauty section, followed by pharmacy (32%). Behind the cashier (19%) and center store (7%) round out the top four preferred locales.

Finally, in terms of customer communication, FMI found that 45% of food retailers do not offer any materials or information to educate their shoppers on the topic of CBD. But among those who do, printed materials (42%) and/or interior signage (37%) are the most-used methods of messaging.

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