When vapes hit the market, the style of vape cartridge filled with cannabis oil dominated sales. While the vape marketplace included products like distillate and Live Resin cartridges, the straightforward oil was No. 1. Just two years ago, during the first quarter of 2016, oil cartridges captured 84 percent of the entire Colorado vape market on sales of $15.5 million according to cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics. The category that quarter grew by 118 percent compared to Q1 2015. Back then, oil not only dominated — it was on the rise.
But then distillate began its ascent. By the first quarter of last year, distillate cartridges in Colorado had nearly pulled even with oil, capturing 38 percent of vape sales, compared to 40 percent for oil.
For the same quarter during this year, their roles reversed. Distillate grabbed 46 percent of the vape market, compared to 21 percent for oil. Meanwhile Live Resin cartridges, which barely registered a blip even a year ago, captured 13 percent of vape sales. Sales of oil vape cartridges, which hit $15.5 million during Q1 2016, fell to $9.9 million. And distillate sales rose to $21.5 million.
Growth for distillate cartridges during the latest quarter compared to the same quarter last year was 104 percent in Colorado, compared to negative growth (-12 percent) for oil cartridges.
The rise of distillate in Colorado is interesting, and it’s not limited to the Centennial State. Spiked consumer interest in the style is even more pronounced in Oregon. During the first quarter of 2017, shoppers dropped $9 million on oil cartridges, giving it 69 percent of the market. Distillate generated $4 million in sales, or 30 percent of the vape market. A year later, it’s another role-reversal. During Q1 2018 distillate hit $13 million, grew by 232 percent and captured 56 percent of the vape market compared to the same quarter last year. Meanwhile, just as in Colorado, oil cartridges experienced negative growth (-15 percent) and represented just 33 percent of the vape market.
Distilate’s dominance hasn’t yet materialized in California, where distillate during Q1 2018 captured 24 percent of the market compared to 63 percent for oil. But during just the first three months of 2018, we witness a distillate surge when compared to oil. In January, consumers spent $7 million on distillate vape cartridges in the Golden State, giving it 22 percent of the market compared to 66 percent for oil, which sold $22 million. But just two months later, during March, distillate’s market share rose to 26 percent, while oil’s dropped to 62 percent.
Savvy extractors and vape brands may be wedded to oil, and possibly for excellent reasons. But everybody should at least be paying attention to the rise of distillate.