According to the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), the UK has unexpectedly become the world’s second-largest consumer of cannabinoids after the US. The average consumer spends more on cannabis extracts domestically than vitamin B and C combined.
Research from the UK’s largest marketplace for certified CBD products, suggests that more than eight million Brits are now buying CBD products, with spending exceeding £150m in the first four months of 2020 alone. In May 2021, the ACI and Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) estimated that the UK cannabidiol (CBD) industry will generate £690m ($959m) in annual sales for 2021. This figure surpasses the previous prediction made by the CMC in 2019, which estimated the market would be worth £526m ($731m) in 2021.
The introduction of regulations on the CBD market will help to provide customers with more clarity and less ambiguity about the products they are receiving. CBD products are classed as a novel food by the Food Standards Agency, authorisation for new companies to the CBD industry is required for CBD extracts and isolates to be placed on the British market.
This regulation that was introduced by the FSA is changing the CBD market for the better. The greater confidence in the legitimacy of these products due to this regulation means that retailers are more comfortable in stocking them, ultimately leading to more sales. The number of CBD oil users also doubled from 125,000 to 250,000 between 2017 and 2018. High street chains such as Holland & Barrett, Boots and Lloyds Pharmacy are all stocking CBD products as they provide the most accessible products for both producers and consumers.
All CBD oils incorporated into high street products are imported into the UK, predominantly from the US and Eastern Europe. Tests have found that up to 62% of UK high street products that were analysed did not contain the CBD content indicated on the product labels. Many producers are, therefore, turning to self-regulation and independent verification to ensure compliance and a quality product.
In 2022, after substantial regulatory impacts on the market in 2021, we expect the CBD market to continue to grow. With more regulation givng the induystry some much-needed clarity, CBD companies will spend less attention on compliance and more on education, brand-building, and marketing. Lastly, we predict that the CBD oil market in the UK will follow the same patterns of this market around the world. This means tastes will move away from traditional consumption methods (e.g., tinctures, hemp flower) and more towards products like vape pens, edibles, and topicals.
As knowledge on these products increases, we expect the market in the UK – and around the world – to continue growing at a rapid pace. With increased competition, more innovation, and better products for consumers, it appears the future is bright for the CBD market.