2020 Grocery Trends: CBD

As we work our way through 2020’s grocery trends, we would be remiss to leave out mention of CBD.

This product has been touted as a super ingredient, added into everything from gummy vitamins to tea, pet food to beauty products. 

Part of the allure, of course is that it holds a bit of notoriety, having been derived from the plant that produces marijuana, that THC-focused drug that has sparked hot debate across the country.

As the United States moves to legalize marijuana in more applications and in more states, the conversation around CBD has become less fraught and more prone to curiosity. People are open to the idea of using this product to cure aches and pains, soothe anxiety, and augment their heart health.

About 40% of U.S. adults said that they were open to trying CBD – that was enough for grocers to take note and consider stocking CBD products in their stores.


What is the history of CBD in grocery?

Grocery stores are a natural place for CBD products to be carried. CBD is often incorporated into food products in order to make the consumption of it seamless for the consumer. For those who aren’t interested in CBD drops or vitamins, a food-based application makes the barrier to entry very low for this trend.

In addition to that, grocery stores are in the best position to offer CBD products at lower prices and with easier access than, say, a specialty health store or an e-commerce site. Shoppers are already frequenting grocery stores for their weekly food shops – it makes sense for them to pick up their CBD products along the way.

The 2018 Farm Bill gave this trend the boost it needed to invoke action in grocers. It formally made hemp-derived CBD into an agricultural commodity, which allowed grocers to put it on their shelves with no legal risk. Now, Cannabis industry analysts predict that the U.S. market will reach $591 million this year, and $22 billion by 2022.


Who is ahead of the trend?

First, the drugstore chains jumped on board. CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens said they would begin selling CBD health products, “including creams, patches and sprays” in more than 2,500 stores.

In June 2019, Kroger followed suit and announced that they would start selling CBD products in 945 stores across the country. However, don’t count on finding CBD gummies in the mix. Kroger is focusing on topical applications of CBD for now in its inventory.

Fairway Market is taking the CBD craze a step further by producing their own full-spectrum hemp products for their stores. Fairway Essential Wellness will offer “ingestible oil capsules and oils, along with lotions and balms” to Fairway customers.


What are the downsides of carrying CBD in grocery stores?

Though the CBD market is set to explode in the next few years, many grocers are still hesitant to jump into the space – and they have good reason. Sure, the ingredient doesn’t have legal complications for retailers, but there is still a bit of a knowledge barrier when it comes to CBD.

Many consumers are still wary of the information that they’re getting on CBD because of its association with THC and marijuana. To circumvent this, and ensure necessary sales of CBD products, grocers need to proactively communicate what CBD is, how it works, and what the potential risks are for customers. The more education that grocers can provide, the fewer objections their customers will have to these products.

In addition to the external-facing considerations, grocers need to think about how much time and effort they’re willing to put in to keep up with the fast-changing laws and regulations surrounding CBD. The 2018 Farm Bill changed the game, but there’s no telling when a new rule will be put in place that could affect inventory and your P&L.

Before you add CBD to your “must-have” product list for 2020, weigh your options. If you take on this trend in the right way, you’ll be ahead of the curve in the industry and seen as a thought leader. If you don’t add in the education piece and spend time understanding the rules and regulations, you won’t see much of an impact on your store, and, in fact, could see negative repercussions.


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