By any measure, the UK’s CBD market is growing.
Celebrity-backed brands, high street availability and the unlimited appeal of the next big thing in wellness continue to fuel demand for CBD products. Sales of CBD soared in the UK at the height of the pandemic and the size of the consumer cannabinoid sector is now impossible to ignore.
In 2021, a report commissioned by the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry found the UK’s CBD market to be valued at £690 million, up from £314 million since 2019.
The result? In 2022, the UK stands as the second largest consumer cannabinoid market in the world, behind the US. In supplement terms, the British public spends more on CBD than Vitamin B and C combined. While consumer interest has grown, so too has an appetite for a more mature, regulated industry.
CBD in food: The UK becomes first jurisdiction to regulate
In 2021, the UK’s food safety regulator announced a requirement for any consumable CBD product that came to market after 13 February 2020 to cease sale, pending successful completion of a novel foods application. A year later, FSA published a list of ingestible CBD products and manufacturers who would be permitted to sell validated products, pending full market authorisation. However not everyone on the regulator’s register is guaranteed to make it that far and the first market approvals are not expected until mid-2023.
Products and their popularity
British shoppers spent more on CBD purchases in the second half of 2021 than before the pandemic, but on a less frequent basis, according to insights from Kantar Media. On average, shopping trips increased in value by £2.28 (up 15%). However, the frequency of shopping trips was down 10%.
Using customer data uploaded via an app, Kantar monitored 100,000 shoppers in the UK over a year up to August 2021, scanning receipts from all categories across all shopping channels.
The data reflects behaviour and shopping trends in periods of lockdown and re-openings, analysing how these affected retail sales and consumer spending.
Kantar analysts said 35% of UK shoppers had never tried any CBD products, but had ‘no objection to trying them in the future,’ according to a 2021 survey of 10 million UK households.
In 2022, Product of the Year, the UK’s biggest annual survey of product innovation, found CBD vapes ranked top of the consumer cannabinoid product types tried by consumers in the previous year. Vapes polled 19% of the votes. Meanwhile, CBD-infused food items drew in 10% of the vote.
Key retailers which have embraced CBD
Following the rise of CBD, mainstream online retail and high street favourites took notice. A few have so far managed to corner a large slice of the market. Perhaps the best known is Holland & Barrett, which sells more than 70 CBD products in its 715 bricks and mortar stores and online shop.
Of the supermarket giants, Tesco is leading the charge on cannabinoid-infused wellness products, with 25 products available, including a CBD-infused dry shampoo in stock, with discounts available to Tesco Clubcard members.
Online, Amazon and Ebay have both welcomed the addition of CBD products to their portfolios too.
Ample demand, product innovation and clear regulations have all contributed to the rise of CBD market in the UK, these have been matched with significant retail adoption. Despite these impressive figures, analysis from Kantar shows CBD adoption is still in its early phases as a product category and it has a massive potential for more growth as the market matures in the years to come.