Cannabis Drinks Expo 2022: Trends in the Cannabis Beverage Industry

ProFood World attended the Cannabis Drinks Expo in Chicago and discussed the rapid rise of cannabis beverages with Adriana Hemans, VP of Growth at The ISA Group.


Quick hits:

  • The cannabis drinks segment is the fastest-growing area of the cannabis industry
  • Cannabis beverages are evolving to meet consumer demand for both low-dose and high-dose products
  • Some high-dose brands are using the bottlecap as a measuring tool to help consumers manage the volume and potency of their drinks
  • Lack of regulatory consistency across states makes it difficult for cannabis drinks brands to expand nationwide

Related to this episode:


Read article   Read the transcript below:

I'm Adriana Hemans, and I'm the VP of Growth at ISA, which is a consumer insights firm based in Los Angeles, California. I head up ISA's cannabis research division and we are here at the Cannabis Drinks Expo, learning about the wonderful world of cannabis beverages. One thing that's sort of a sore spot for the cannabis industry in general is that there are different regulations at every state.

So where you may be allowed to do some things in California, you're not allowed to do them in Nevada, and so forth. So that makes it confusing for people that want to build a national brand. And it also makes it confusing for consumers because they have an expectation of what they will get in the state that they're from, and then they travel somewhere else and it's different.

And the classic example of this is dosing. So in some states, there's a limit of 100 milligrams. In other states, it's a different limit. So if you are used to having a certain variation or certain formulation of the product that you love, you go to another state and it's different. It might not be a good experience for you or you might accidentally take too much.

And so that is that is definitely a hurdle for manufacturers to well, they are still a tiny, tiny segment of the market, but they're growing quickly and they are very popular. There's a lot of buzz people are really excited about it, and I think rightfully so is it is a category that I think will have exponential growth. And the reason for that is it's this is how we're used to consuming socially, right?

If we go to a graduation party or a birthday party or a happy hour with your coworkers, this is already baked into our the fabric of our culture and our society. So it makes sense if we have the ability to infuse our beverage with cannabis. This doesn't have cannabis, by the way. It's just a sample. Why not? Because we already have those like built in cultural customs that are about like having a toast or sharing a drink with someone or sharing a beer.

So I think it totally makes sense. I think that this will attract the kind of curious people who don't necessarily want to smoke or vape. They may have conservative concerns about lung health they may have had a bad experience with an edible, which is a very common story that we hear sometimes. I think that beverages are just very accessible and they're also you know, well loved already by Americans.

Well, I think what we're seeing a trend that I'm seeing a lot is using caps as a measuring device. This doesn't have one, but there are some where it's like, OK, you take it out. You know that a capful has a certain number of milligrams of THC, so you're able to measure it. If you were just going to pour it out, then you wouldn't really know how much THC you were about to have.

You know, and there's also hurdles with some dispensaries don't necessarily want to give up a square footage to have a cooler section. So there's also the sort of like infrastructure that needs to be built out a little bit around beverages. There's also sort of a debate going on now about low dose versus high dose, where some some folks are arguing based on the fact that high dose beverages so far are doing well and they're usually the best seller in their individual market, that it's big that will stay that way.

Right. And that will just be. It'll be all high, high dose and by high dose, I mean, like over 50 milligrams. And then there's the other side of the spectrum, which is the company can that was speaking earlier today. They make a low dose beverage and I think that their strategy is really smart because they are mimicking the way that we consume alcoholic beverages.

So you wouldn't go to a party and have one drink that was equivalent to like ten shots and then call it a night. You would want to have a small drink and not a strong drink. And then pace yourself throughout the night and sort of choose your own adventure. So I think that that debate will be will wage on for a little bit longer.

But I do think that there's room in the market for both. And I think we will see some best selling logos options to.

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