Gummies: They're sweet, they're flavorful, and they're chewy. Add concentrated cannabis to the list of gummies' other ingredients -- which may include pectin or gelatin, tapioca syrup or corn syrup, in addition to sugar and flavoring -- and you've got the most popular edible product within the recreational cannabis market. Well ahead of chocolates, pills, or tinctures. Or other candy items like mints, caramels, and taffies.
"[Gummies] are the dominant category of 'ingestibles' in the cannabis industry," says Greg Shoenfeld, the VP of operations at BDS Analytics, which tracks cannabis sales figures and business trends in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Nevada and Oregon. "In virtually every market in which gummies are sold they are the most popular category of 'ingestibles.'" (Shoenfeld prefers the term "ingestibles" to "edibles," since cannabis beverages and pills are included in the same overall category, as well.)
Shoenfeld cited the market dominance of gummies for a one year period ending in January 2020: gummies made up 43 percent of sales within the cannabis edibles market, as opposed to chocolates at 12 percent and mints at 3 percent.
Illustrating their continuing rise in popularity, one need only compare that figure to the following: From 2018 to 2020, gummies made up 33 percent of total sales within the edibles market. Clearly, gummies are undergoing fruit-flavored, rocket-ship growth.
The rise of gummies
When BDS Analytics first began tracking cannabis sales in Colorado in 2015, gummies weren't selling nearly as well as chocolates or brownies. "But very quickly professional brands emerged, and they were able to take gummies into the lead position, where they've remained ever since," says Shoenfeld. (When High Times published an article on the best edibles in California in 2014, gummies weren't even included on the list, which included a macaron, a hazelnut spread, a jerky, and chocolates.)
Shoenfeld attributes the ascendance of gummies' popularity to their "appealing flavor profiles" which include a variety of fruit flavors; their "longevity," or longer shelf-life, as opposed to, say, a brownie; and the "portability of the product" -- since they won't, for example, melt in someone's backpack like a chocolate might.
Shoenfeld adds, "I think they're conducive to packaging that the [companies] have been able to build their brand around." (An example of that might be the Oregon-based company Wyld, which employs an eye-catching, multi-sided enclosure in which the gummies are packaged.)
And there are advancements continuing to take place in the category of gummies, Shoenfeld says, such as "new formulations and technologies that facilate early onset [of the cannabis effect] and more precise dosing."
The big players
Although Shoenfeld was unable to comment on sales figures for individual brands, or how well various brands stack up in different regions of the country, he did confirm that the following are among the most popular cannabis businesses manufacturing gummies:
Wana Brands (Colorado)
Calling itself "Colorado's #1 infused products company," Wana Brands has increased its footprint across the U.S.: Its gummies can now be found in California, Oregon, Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, and Ohio.
In 2018, Wana's co-founder and CEO told CompanyWeek that her company chose to make gummies its centerpiece for a variety of reasons: "[Nancy] Whiteman notes that gummies are already a popular platform for vitamins and supplements, in addition to sweets. And unlike savory products, which may lead to overeating -- and, thus, over-medicating -- eating a single gummy can be enough to make a person feel satisfied."
Wana's sour gummies include flavors like grape, raspberry, lemon, and orange. And then there's also Exotic Yuzu (in 2:1 CBD-THC ratio), as well as Mango Sativa, Strawberry Lemonade, and Pomegranate Blueberry Acai.
This year, the company released a line of cocktail-flavored, "fast-acting gummies" with technology from New York-based Azuca, which utilizes a "thermodynamic individual molecular encapsulation." The takeaway? Instead of having to wait for the effect of the cannabis to come on in a half hour to an hour -- or perhaps much longer -- the onset time has been cut down to as low as five minutes from ingestion.
Kiva Confections (California)
Kiva, which calls itself the "top edibles company in California," began by making chocolate bars, and then Terra Bites -- cannabis chocolate-covered blueberries and coffee beans. But its Camino gummies, now in tins, have been a market force.
Co-founder Kristi Knoblich Palmer says in an email, "We love innovating here at Kiva, and with gummies being the largest category in edibles, we naturally wanted to bring our creativity and expertise into the space. [The gummi line] Camino was a project two years in the making, and the results speak for themselves." She adds that Kiva's gummies have undergone "spectacular growth," and although they've "stolen the spotlight, we also gained ground with expansions in [our other products, as well]."
Kiva's gummies include the addition of terpenes, which the company uses to enhance the effects of its wild cherry-flavored "Excite" gummies, its watermelon-lemonade "Bliss," and its blueberry-flavored "Sleep" gummi, featuring the cannabinoid CBN.
Wyld, which calls itself "Oregon's leading cannabis edible brand," has a strong market presence in California and Nevada as well.
With Oregon-centric flavors like huckleberry and marionberry, co-founder Rene Kaza told the Santa Barbara Independent that the company stands out due to, "Consistent quality, stunning packaging, and delicious, real-fruit-infused products. . . . Our team of food scientists constantly improves our food safety, formulations, and shelf-life stability to ensure we are producing the best products in the market."
Have the popularity of gummies begun to plateau? Perhaps not.
BDS's Shoenfeld says, "The gummy segment has been one of the fastest-growing categories of ingestibles over time -- and that [trend] is continuing into the foreseeable future."
This is the latest in a seried of data-driven features for CompanyWeek's Cannabis Manufacturing Report produced with the help of BDS Analytics. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, BDS Analytics provides businesses with comprehensive, actionable, and accurate cannabinoid market intelligence and consumer research. To learn more about how you can utilize the company's industry-leading market research, visit www.bdsanalytics.com.