Description

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the the Canadian Cannabis in food and drink market, including the behaviors, preferences and habits of the consumer.

The cannabis industry in Canada has had an opportunity to mature since it launched in 2018. Gradually increased availability and declining prices made legal cannabis more competitive with the black market – but the most significant shift was the legalization of edibles and drinkables at the end of 2019.

Cannabis-infused food and drink products will play a vital role in growing the cannabis industry. They will be the primary way for new users to try cannabis, while also acting as a secondary, occasional format for experienced users. And with the pandemic creating more need for stress relief and more opportunity for trying new experiences at home, there is reason to believe usage will increase across Canada in the near future.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our North American Food market research.

Quickly understand

  • Cannabis usage and how it compares to the first six months of legalization.
  • Usage and interest in edibles/drinkables, as well as types of edibles/drinkables.
  • The most important factors consumers consider when deciding on edible/drinkable purchases.
  • How cannabis usage increases appetites and the types of foods consumers typically eat.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of edibles and drinkables compared to other formats.
  • Understanding who open non-users are and the opportunities for them to try cannabis.

Covered in this report

Terms used: Cannabis: unless otherwise noted, the term cannabis in this Report refers to marijuana/cannabis that includes THC. Cannabis user: a consumer who used marijuana/cannabis in the six months prior to the fielding of this consumer research. Drinkables: a beverage infused with cannabis which contains THC, CBD or both. Edibles: a food item infused with cannabis which contains THC, CBD or both. Open non-user: a consumer who did not use marijuana/cannabis in the six months prior to the fielding of this consumer research, but who is open to using it in the following six months.

Brands featured: San Rafael, Up Cannabis, Houseplant, Chowie Wowie, The Edison Co, Truss Beverages, Hi-Fi Hops, Wana Brands and more.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Scott Stewart, a leading analyst in the technology, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

More than two years after cannabis was federally legalized, the industry is finding its footing in Canada and starting to live up to expectations. Edible and drinkable cannabis will play a significant role in helping this industry take the next step; they can expand usage to more Canadians since they are the ideal formats to use as introductions to cannabis. Increased appetites for snacks, treats and hot food during usage mean that food’s role within this industry is not limited to infused products. Food and drink already go hand-in-hand with the cannabis industry, and their importance stands to grow even more in the future.

Scott Stewart
Senior Technology and Media Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
    • Impact of COVID-19 on cannabis
      • Figure 1: Short, medium and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on cannabis, February 2021
    • Opportunities
    • Edibles and drinkables are a vital tool to broaden the cannabis industry
    • Cannabis use is often functional
    • ‘The munchies’ means cannabis can positively impact other industries
    • Consumers’ interest in appealing taste creates an opportunity for differentiation
    • Alcohol is a substitute, complement and comparison point for cannabis
    • Challenges
    • Edibles and drinkables have quantifiable drawbacks compared to other formats
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • The legal cannabis market is finding its footing
    • Health trends could benefit the edible/drinkable category
    • Edibles and drinkables still face unique challenges
  4. The Market – By the Numbers

    • Licensed cannabis consumer expenditure has surpassed unlicensed
      • Figure 2: Non-medical cannabis household consumption expenditure, Q3 2017-Q3 2020
    • Pricing has made the legal market more competitive
      • Figure 3: Non-medical cannabis implicit price index, Q3 2017-Q3 2020
    • It’s easier to buy legal cannabis
      • Figure 4: Number of federal cannabis licence holders, October 2018-September 2020
    • Edible and drinkable cannabis sales continue to grow
      • Figure 5: Non-medical edible/drinkable cannabis sales (packaged units), December 2019-October 2020
  5. Market Factors

    • The Cannabis Act limits marketing and production capabilities
    • The Cannabis Act prohibits most promotion of cannabis
      • Figure 6: Have the Cannabis Talk with your kids. We can help, February 2021
    • Edible and drinkable production must take place in a cannabis-only building
    • Edibles/drinkables prices compared to other formats
    • Cigarette smoking is in decline
      • Figure 7: Current or daily occasions smokers, 2015 vs 2019
    • The science of edibles and drinkables
    • Many Canadians experience mental health challenges
      • Figure 8: Mental health challenges experienced in the past 12 months, December 2020
    • Impact of COVID-19 on cannabis food and drink
    • Lockdown
    • Re-emergence
    • Recovery
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Companies are quickly evolving the cannabis industry
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Social media is a vital tool for cannabis marketing in Canada
      • Figure 9: San Rafael ‘71 Facebook post, February 2021
      • Figure 10: Up Cannabis Twitter post, December 2020
      • Figure 11: Houseplant Instagram post, March 2021
    • Comparing low and high cost edibles and drinkables
      • Figure 12: Chowie Wowie Edibles Instagram post, September 2020
      • Figure 13: The Edison Co Instagram post, December 2020
      • Figure 14: Truss Beverages Instagram post, December 2020
      • Figure 15: Truss Beverages Instagram post, November 2020
    • Alcohol brands are investing in drinkable cannabis
      • Figure 16: Hi-Fi Hops Instagram post, November 2020
    • Cannabis companies are diversifying their brand portfolios
    • Fast-acting technology is helping improve edibles/drinkables
      • Figure 17: Wana Brands Instagram post, November 2020
  8. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Cannabis usage
    • Cannabis formats
    • Edibles and drinkables purchase factors
    • Food and drink consumed with cannabis
    • Comparing edibles/drinkables to other formats
    • A closer look at open non-users
  9. Cannabis Usage

    • A snapshot of usage: a quarter of consumers use cannabis
      • Figure 18: Used/consumed in the past six months, December 2020
    • Men drive demand in the cannabis industry
      • Figure 19: Used/consumed in the past six months, men vs women, December 2020
      • Figure 20: Used marijuana/cannabis in the past six months, men vs women by age, December 2020
      • Figure 21: Used marijuana/cannabis in the past six months, men vs women by presence of children, December 2020
    • Cross usage shows that cannabis is closely connected with other controlled products
      • Figure 22: Used marijuana/cannabis in the past six months, by usage of other controlled products, December 2020
    • A look back: cannabis usage is at the same level as 2019
      • Figure 23: Used/consumed marijuana/cannabis in the past six months, March 2019 vs December 2020
    • Declines were biggest among young Canadians
      • Figure 24: Used/consumed marijuana/cannabis in the past six months, March 2019 vs December 2020
    • Cannabis usage is usually functional
      • Figure 25: Reasons for using marijuana/cannabis, December 2020
      • Figure 26: Reasons for using marijuana/cannabis, by age, December 2020
      • Figure 27: Tweed Instagram post, July 2020
    • Sleep as an opportunity to expand cannabis usage
      • Figure 28: Up Cannabis Instagram post, March 2019
  10. Cannabis Formats

    • Edibles are the second most common format of cannabis
      • Figure 29: Marijuana/cannabis formats used in past six months, December 2020
      • Figure 30: Marijuana/cannabis formats used in past six months, cigarette smokers vs non-smokers, December 2020
    • Edibles and drinkables resonate with women and higher income/education levels
      • Figure 31: Marijuana/cannabis formats used in past six months, men vs women by age, December 2020
      • Figure 32: Marijuana/cannabis formats used in past six months, by household income, December 2020
      • Figure 33: Marijuana/cannabis formats used in past six months, by education, December 2020
    • Drinkables make it easy to use cannabis discreetly
      • Figure 34: Marijuana/cannabis formats used in past six months, parents vs non-parents, December 2020
    • Edibles and drinkables will be central in attracting new users
      • Figure 35: Marijuana/cannabis formats that may be used in the next six months, December 2020
      • Figure 36: Marijuana/cannabis formats that may be used in the next six months, current users vs open non-users, December 2020
    • Quebec is less interested in edibles, but presents an opportunity for drinkables
      • Figure 37: Marijuana/cannabis formats that may be used in the next six months, by region, December 2020
    • Companies must focus on the edibles and drinkables consumers want
    • Sweets are at the centre of edibles demand
      • Figure 38: Interest in edible type, December 2020
      • Figure 39: Foray Instagram post, October 2020
      • Figure 40: Foray Instagram post, September 2020
    • Cannabis-infused tea should be targeted at older consumers
      • Figure 41: Interest in types of drinkables, December 2020
      • Figure 42: Haven St Instagram post, December 2019
    • Carbonated cannabis beverages have a clear overlap with alcohol drinkers
      • Figure 43: Tweed Instagram post, May 2020
      • Figure 44: Interested in carbonated cannabis drinks, men vs women by age, December 2020
      • Figure 45: Interested in carbonated cannabis drinks, men vs women by presence of children at home, December 2020
  11. Edibles and Drinkables Purchase Factors

    • Taste and price are the most important factors
      • Figure 46: Factors most important to edible/drinkable cannabis purchases, December 2020
    • Consumers are looking for taste that is appealing, not just tolerable
    • Older women are the most interested in appealing taste
      • Figure 47: Edibles/cannabis purchase factor: appealing taste, men vs women by age, December 2020
      • Figure 48: Edibles/cannabis purchase factor: tolerable taste, men vs women by age, December 2020
    • The value equation for cannabis consumers
    • Current users are focused on how much THC is included
      • Figure 49: Factors most important to edible/drinkable cannabis purchases, by cannabis usage, December 2020
    • Branding remains a challenge in the cannabis industry
    • Brand power is a particularly stark difference between cannabis and alcohol
  12. Food and Drink Consumed with Cannabis

    • Most cannabis users experience ‘the munchies’
      • Figure 50: Food and drink consumed while using cannabis, December 2020
    • Pantries and freezers are the targets of many cannabis users
      • Figure 51: Snacks consumed while using cannabis, by age, December 2020
      • Figure 52: Oh Henry! Instagram post, April 2018
      • Figure 53: Ben & Jerry’s Twitter post, April 2019
    • Hot food is another common munchie item
    • Users often crave foodservice
      • Figure 54: Typically eat fast food while using marijuana/cannabis, by age, December 2020
      • Figure 55: Foodora Canada Instagram post, April 2018
      • Figure 56: Jack in the Box Instagram post, December 2017
    • Fried foods and pizza are menu items that will resonate
      • Figure 57: Hot foods typically eaten while using marijuana/cannabis, by age, December 2020
    • CPGs can promote their hot foods too
    • Alcohol is often complementary to cannabis
    • Alcohol and cannabis pairing is more common during fun events
      • Figure 58: Alcoholic beverages consumed while using marijuana/cannabis, by age, December 2020
      • Figure 59: Alcoholic beverages consumed while using marijuana/cannabis, by reason for cannabis usage, December 2020
  13. Comparing Edibles/Drinkables to Other Formats

    • Advantages of edibles and drinkables
    • They are convenient and discreet
      • Figure 60: Attitudes towards edible/drinkable cannabis: convenience and discretion (% agree), December 2020
    • They are considered healthier
    • Disadvantages of edibles and drinkables
    • They are expensive
      • Figure 61: Edibles/drinkables are expensive compared to other forms of cannabis (% agree), by current financial situation, December 2020
    • They take too long to have an effect
      • Figure 62: Edible/drinkable cannabis takes too long to take effect (% agree), by age, December 2020
      • Figure 63: Stillwater Life Instagram post, January 2021
    • Consumers believe drinkable cannabis is healthier than alcohol
      • Figure 64: Drinkable cannabis is healthier than alcohol (% agree), by age, December 2020
  14. A Closer Look at Open Non-Users

    • A quarter of non-users are open to using cannabis
    • Younger consumers, men and dads present the best opportunity
      • Figure 65: Open to using marijuana/cannabis in the next six months (% yes), men vs women by age, December 2020
    • High income household consumers are interested in cannabis
      • Figure 66: Open to using marijuana/cannabis in the next six months (% yes), by household income, December 2020
    • French Canadians will be a challenging target
      • Figure 67: Open to using marijuana/cannabis in the next six months (% yes), by language spoken at home, December 2020
    • Cigarettes, e-cigarettes and CBD are uncommon among open non-users
      • Figure 68: Used/consumed in the past six months, cannabis users vs open non-users, December 2020
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Mintel Trend Drivers
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

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