The cannabis beverage market is not large, compared to categories like flower and concentrates — less than one percent of all cannabis sales in Colorado, Oregon and California were spent on beverages during April of this year, for example.
But interest in beverages, despite the category’s modest size, makes sense for a variety of reasons, including growth. And consumer interest in styles of beverages nationwide is not uniform: What is growing fast in Oregon, for example, might not even register in California.
In Colorado and Oregon in April, growth for beverages hit 23.5 percent, which outpaces overall industry growth of 2.5 percent in those states during the month according to cannabis market research firm BDS Analytics. Analyzing year-over-year growth in California is not a fruitful exercise— the cannabis industry in California today is much different than it was prior to the enactment of legal adult-use sales on Jan. 1 of this year. So comparing April of this year to April last year is essentially comparing two different states.
Sales across all three states hit $3.4 million in April, with most of the revenue coming from California ($1.7 million) and Colorado ($1.4 million). Consumers spent $273,732 on beverages in Oregon during the month, but growth in Oregon is outstanding: 188 percent. By comparison, growth in Colorado reached 11 percent.
Let’s look at what consumers are tossing back, cannabis-wise, in all three states.
Oregon has the lightest sales, which is not surprising: With 4.1 million residents, the population is 36 percent smaller than Colorado, which has 5.6 million people, and 875 percent smaller than California, with its 39.5 million people.
But growth in Oregon beverages outpaces the other states. And the growth of one category — drinks — is phenomenal. The category, which commands 66 percent of the beverage market, grew by 553 percent in April compared to the previous April. Meanwhile, the No. 2 most popular beverage in the state, shots, captured 25 percent of the market, even though during the previous April there wasn’t a shots brand. So growth cannot be measured.
In Colorado, as in Oregon, the drinks category (which includes things like juices and sodas) dominates the marketplace, capturing 70 percent of the beverage market. But the category experienced negative growth in April (-10 percent) on 981,000 in sales. Meanwhile the second-place winner in Colorado, powdered drinks, rocketed up by 484 percent on sales of 342,117.
Finally, California. Once again, it’s all about the drinks category, which own 65 percent of the beverage market. Back in January, the first month of adult-use sales, drinks saw $648,000 in sales. But by April (when many more dispensaries had legal licenses), sales reached $1.1 million. Rising to No. 2 in the Golden State was tea, which captured 24 percent of the market on sales of $523,000. In January, sales of tea reached $238,000.
This is one dynamic marketplace, with plenty of room to grow and evolve. High-CBD beverages, micro-dosed drinks, kombucha with full-spectrum hemp extract and THC — the list of possibilities is long and interesting.