When most people hear “gummies” and “vitamins” in the same sentence, images come to mind of The Flintstones and children’s candy. But for a growing number of wellness enthusiasts, these associations are challenged by a new generation of cannabis-infused products.
In fact, the cannabis gummy market is booming. According to recent data from Grand View Research, between 2019 and 2025 the global CBD gummies market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 31.9 percent. An investigation into the market potential of infused gummies helps shed light on how they’re breaking through nostalgia and into the wellness mainstream.
Several converging market factors are creating a unique opportunity for infused gummies. First, according to research from the Council on Responsible Nutrition, in 2019 dietary supplement use reached an all-time high, with 77 percent of Americans reporting they consume dietary supplements. Amplifying this trend, during the COVID-19 pandemic sales of vitamins and supplements have seen a sharp increase in the United States. As a cultural focus on wellness is heightened by this year’s extraordinary health concerns, smart money is on the supplement industry’s continued growth.
The second market factor at this crossroads is the growing popularity of gummy supplements as opposed to other options such as pills, tablets, and capsules—the products folks have a hard time swallowing, literally. Millennials, who now are the largest living demographic, grew up with a proliferation of gummy vitamins, and it appears early habits have some serious staying power. Research published in Nutrition Business Journal indicated despite the childlike reputation, adults consume more gummy supplements than children do.
Third, those keeping track of edible hemp regulations know signs point toward the eventual classification of CBD as a dietary supplement. Introduced in September 2020, the bipartisan Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2020 (HR 8179) is the latest evidence of this progress. The bill proposes hemp-derived ingredients such as CBD be legally marketed as dietary supplement ingredients.
These converging trends set the stage for a significant market opportunity for cannabinoid gummies. For product makers who are ready to answer the call, the potential exists for a best-of-both-worlds product that both expands the industry’s reach and more deeply ingrains cannabis as a reputable wellness solution.
So, what could these infused gummies look like?
Though more research is needed, existing data has shown the strong and multifaceted wellness potential of CBD and other cannabinoids. Immunity supplements—from vitamins C and D to zinc, elderberry, and echinacea—have been used and trusted for generations to boost immunity, for example. This presents an opportunity, in combination with the anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties of CBD, for a multi-function infused gummy to help users boost immunity and feel their best every day.
Similarly, the combination of cannabinoids with probiotic supplements allows users to target their gut health for a natural boost of immunity and anti-inflammation, with the additional benefit of anti-nausea properties in cannabinoids.
Supplements already are commonly used for exercise and performance, offering a seamless point of entry for fast-acting cannabinoid ingredients. Before a workout, a gummy combining CBD and caffeine can deliver clean energy and focus. During a long or particularly strenuous workout, a gummy combining sugar and CBD or THCV, a minor cannabinoid that leverages the energy of THC, can help provide a burst of energy while reducing pain and inflammation. Post workout, athletes can accelerate recovery with gummies that combine cannabinoids with other anti-inflammatory ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, cardamom, and more. Add on thermogenics such as apple cider vinegar, goji berries, and hot chili peppers to boost metabolism, and you have a holistic and natural workout solution.
Cannabinoids such as CBD and CBN long have been used to help regulate and encourage sleep, according to a review of the literature published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Psychiatry Reports. Infused gummies may leverage these properties in combination with other natural sleep enhancers such as melatonin, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), chamomile, valerian root, passionflower, and others. Compounding natural sleep aid properties, cannabinoid products can further challenge reliance on pharmaceutical sleep aids, connecting consumers with more natural and holistic solutions.
To help ensure the positive impact and long-term success of cannabis ingestibles, products must perform as advertised. In a sector like wellness, which has a troubled history with products that are either ineffective or flat-out harmful, it is particularly vital that infused products actually work, meaning the cannabinoid ingredient is bioavailable and consumers can feel the supplement working. Many consumers are looking for a physical sensation, a trigger that signals to the brain “this product is working” (e.g., the jitters someone experiences when they consume a lot of caffeine). When manufacturers design cannabis experiences, it’s critical to consider bioavailability in their product design.
Adding CBD oil to a gummy mixture is not enough. Product makers need to invest in emulsion ingredients that allow for quick absorption, fast onset, and a consistent effect across all units.
Clearly, the growing market opportunity for infused gummies also comes with serious responsibilities. This new generation of wellness options will shape the public’s relationship with cannabinoids for years to come. As the industry redoubles its commitment to quality and safety, it is likewise a collective responsibility to advocate for increased research, better regulation, and more access to funding in order to tap the true potential for health and healing that cannabis products offer.
As chief innovation officer at Vertosa, Austin Stevenson facilitates partnerships with leading brands to produce cannabinoid-infused cold-brew coffee, beer, wine, fresh juice, and topicals. Previously, he leveraged bio-tech experience building the regulatory hemp/CBD testing program for Eurofins. Stevenson is also a former management associate for Citi, where he worked to fund minority- and women-owned businesses.