Vaping-related deaths in 2019 slowed the market, but concentrates continue to gain in popularity
Market Share of Cannabis Sales
Colorado, Oregon and Washington
Unprocessed Cannabis 69.2%
Processed Cannabis 28.9%
Unprocessed Cannabis 69.0%
Processed Cannabis 29.8%
Unprocessed Cannabis 64.6%
Processed Cannabis 34%
Unprocessed Cannabis 57.8%
Processed Cannabis 40.7%
Unprocessed Cannabis 48.4%
Processed Cannabis 49.6%
Unprocessed Cannabis 48.6%
Processed Cannabis 49.8%
Unprocessed Cannabis 51%
Processed Cannabis 47.7%
2020 U.S. Sales by Category
Source: New Frontier Data
Market Share Shifts 2018-2019
Vape Oil and Cartridges 1.1%
Other Concentrates (Shatter, Wax, RSO, etc.) 0.2%
Source: Brightfield Group
The vaping scare shook up the concentrates market in the second half of 2019, but despite last year’s upheaval, the sales and popularity of extracted products continues to grow nationally, according to research from cannabis analytics firms BDSA, Brightfield Group and New Frontier Data.
While flower remains the top-selling category of cannabis products across the country, concentrates are taking up a larger and larger part of the market, both in individual states and the national market as a whole.
According to New Frontier Data, cannabis products made from extracts — including concentrates, vapes, edibles, topicals and tinctures — account for 57% of legal cannabis sales in the United States so far in 2020. New Frontier projects that products made from extracts will represent about $10.2 billion of the $18 billion in total legal cannabis sales expected this year.
Flower still holds the largest market share at 37%, but vapes (32%), edibles (13%) and extracts (10%) take up the next three spots.
And while vapes dominate the broader concentrates category, several cannabis producers say live resin and live rosin products have been the fastest growing sub-sector.
“When it comes to extracts and concentrates trends, vapes are far and above the most popular option for our customers,” says Joel Klobas, vice president of production for Oregon-based Chalice Farms. “Live resin is finally beginning to take off and earn more of the market share, with rapid growth over the last 12 to 16 months.”
“We’re seeing live rosin cartridges becoming much more popular, and our infused pre-rolls have also been performing well this year,” says Aaron Nino, production manager for The+Source in Nevada. “In vapes, while cartridges still outperform disposables, we’ve seen an increase in disposables as well.”
In 2014, the year Colorado and Washington launched recreational sales, processed cannabis — meaning anything made with concentrates — made up just 28.9% of sales in those two states, according to BDSA. In 2018, in the three oldest rec markets combined (Colorado, Oregon and Washington), processed cannabis sales surpassed unprocessed cannabis sales with 49.6% of revenue generated.
By mid-2019, revenue from processed products peaked in Oregon, Colorado and Washington, before an outbreak of vaping-related deaths caused vape sales, the largest contributor of processed product revenue, to crash. In 2019, processed cannabis accounted for 49.8% of sales, compared to 48.6% for unprocessed cannabis, a number that has now ticked upward slightly to 51% in 2020.
But the national decline of processed cannabis sales was short-lived.
New Frontier Data reports show significant growth, particularly in edibles and topicals during 2020. Together, the two categories have grown by 37% compared to 2019 sales. Prior to that, sales in those two categories had been growing steadily at 28% annually.
Brightfield Group cannabis research manager Andy Seeger says new recreational markets in Illinois and Michigan have brought a resurgence of concentrate sales due to their diverse selection of extract-based products at launch. Unlike earlier recreational states, Seeger says, cannabis retailers in Michigan and Illinois opened with a suite of extract products.
In addition to market expansion — 10 states now allow recreational marijuana sales — Seeger says consumer interest in diverse offerings fueled the growth of cannabis extract products during 2019, leading to innovation in pricing, packaging, bioavailability, emulsification, dosing and a wider audience. He says the discreet nature of processed products such as edibles and vape pens aligns with the interests of first-time buyers who are looking for products that are clearly labeled and do not require accessories like a pipe or dab rig to enjoy. Conversely, Seeger says more experienced consumers are increasingly buying concentrates and dabbing.
“Despite market growth overall, and across all categories, flower comprised 4% less of the total market in 2019 versus 2018 due to market openings and expansions, innovation and the increase in popularity in edibles, concentrates and vaping,” Seeger says. “This mix of market model conditions and consumer interest is forcing an evolution of products that come to market and will continue to drive the industry.”