Over the past few years, the global legal cannabis industry has shown exponential growth, with further substantial growth expected in the coming years. According to market research, the global cannabis industry was valued at USD 22.10 billion in 2020, with North America, the largest and fastest-growing market, contributing USD 16 billion.
The regulatory landscape of the cannabis industry in North America has been in constant flux over two decades, it has been tricky to forecast cannabis sales- until now.
In this article, we will cover Canadian and American cannabis sales in 2021, and insights into what products consumers are enjoying, and consuming the most.
Although the cannabis sector saw significant drops in revenue between 2019 and 2021 due to strict lockdowns disrupting the supply chain management of cannabis, an industry analysis by Grand View Research projected a 25-28% y-o-y growth for the industry from 2021 to 2026.
According to this report by New Frontier Data, global legal cannabis sales are expected to cap out at USD 29.4 billion in 2021, with the medical market contributing USD 12.9 billion and the adult-use market contributing USD 16.5 billion.
The North American Cannabis Report by Prohibition Partners projects that by the end of 2021, the North American market will have seen sales of over USD 22 billion.
By the end of August 2021, data from Statistics Canada reported legal cannabis sales to be at USD 2.17 billion, an almost 80% increase from the same period last year. This sets the industry on track to achieve estimated sales for 2021 of USD 3.2 billion as projected by New Frontier Data, compared to sales of 2.57 billion in 2020. Adult-use cannabis sales are expected to rack up sales of USD 2.8 billion while medical cannabis sales will bring in USD 0.4 billion.
On the other hand, September 2021 data from a BDSA report presents a more optimistic outlook for the Canadian cannabis industry, forecasting total legal sales of USD 4 billion by the end of the year, with Ontario, Canada’s largest market, leading this boost, growing by almost 90% y-o-y in 2021.
Paradoxically, while the global cannabis market suffered revenue losses in 2020 due to supply chain shortages during global lockdowns, the U.S. market experienced a surge in sales. This was primarily attributed to the designation of cannabis dispensaries as essential during lockdowns, in addition to new consumers entering through both mature and emerging markets.
Data from Marijuana Business Daily estimates that, by the end of 2021, the U.S. cannabis market will have achieved sales of between USD 20.3 billion and USD 24.8 billion, with adult-use contributing anywhere from USD 13 billion to USD 15.9 billion, and medical use contributing USD 8.3 billion to USD 10.2 billion.
Initially, the cannabis market was dominated by flower, which is the oldest known variation of the product. However, over the years, newer products, particularly those marketed towards health and wellness, have become more popular.
According to Headset, a cannabis data company, flower remains the most popular product in both the U.S. and Canada, contributing 43.7% and 45.6% respectively to the adult-use sectors in these countries in 2021.
In Canada, the second most consumed cannabis product was pre-rolls, coming in at 23%, followed by vapor pens at 16.4%, then edibles at 5%, concentrates at 3.4%, and other cannabis products at 6.6%.
In the U.S., vapor pens were the second most popular product at 22.2%, followed by pre-rolls at 11%, edibles at 10.2%, concentrates at 8.7%, and other products at 4.1%.
Edibles, although only the fourth most popular product in both countries, have garnered close attention from the industry in the past two years, consistently exhibiting higher consumption percentage increases than other products. In Canada, they only became legal in October 2019, following the introduction of Cannabis 2.0, and only hit dispensary shelves in January 2020. This would explain their relatively low market share in Canada.
A key factor making edibles so attractive to consumers is diversity. The most popular products are gummies, which contributed 71.1% of all edibles sold in the U.S., and 65.1% of all edibles sold in Canada.
Caramels, chews, and taffy followed in the U.S. with 10.2% of edibles sales, closely followed by chocolate (10.1%), and other products like candy, lozenges, mints, cookies, brownies, and blondies contributing the remaining 8.6%.
In Canada, the second most popular edibles were chocolates at 18%, followed by caramels, chews, and taffy (14.2%), and 0.7% for other products.
The cannabis industry is complex, and has been evolving quickly over the past decade after shifts in the legal landscapes.
Although the United States has yet to federally legalize the substance, cannabis has been legalized for recreational use in 18 states. And decriminalized in 13. Meaning that it’s growth is just getting started - with room to grow.
The future is always evolving, and we are excited to see what it holds.
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