Marijuana ‘munchies’ tick up US snack sales

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

The increasing approval of recreational marijuana use for adults is boosting snack sales. Pic: ©GettyImages/Francisco Carta fotographo
The increasing approval of recreational marijuana use for adults is boosting snack sales. Pic: ©GettyImages/Francisco Carta fotographo

Related tags Cbd marijuana Nielsen Us Mondelez Pillsbury company Nabisco

Nielsen has reported there has been a notable pick-up in the consumption of the so-called ‘munchies’ in US states where marijuana is legal, which has boosted the sales of snacks.

The market research firm has reported that ‘munchies’ are creating ‘big opportunities for the American food and beverage market, particularly for the snack and confectionery category.’

Overall, salty snacks had sales of $29.9bn and sweet snacks had sales of $6.5bn for the year ending April 27, 2019.

More tellingly though, the categories’ CAGRs have grown faster in US states where recreational marijuana is legal than those where it is still illegal.

According to Nielsen, sales of salty grew 7.2% in states where CBD has been legalized, compared to 6% in other states.

Likewise, sweet snacks grew by 2% in the former states versus 1.3% in states where it is illegal.


Nielsen noted ‘the increase in sales starts at the time the legislation becomes effective.’

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in 11 states and Washington DC, and a number of others – including New York, Connecticut and New Jersey – are considering the same move. Illinois is the latest to join the pond, with sales of cannabis products containing the psychoactive element, THC, anticipated to start in January 2020. 

‘Edible hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) products – which include the cannabinoid compound found in marijuana with little to no THC – present a $6bn opportunity for the food and beverage industry,’ said Nielsen.

Cultured cannabinoids at commercial scale

Meanwhile, Canadian cannabis giant Cronos Group is expecting a boost from the acquisition of a state-of-the-art fermentation and manufacturing facility in Winnipeg.

The facility is equipped with laboratories that cover microbiology, chemistry, quality control and method development and two large fermentation production areas, which Cronos said will increase its ability to produce ‘cultured cannabinoids at commercial scale with high-quality and high-purity.’

The move comes shortly after the company hired Mondelēz veteran Dr Todd Abraham to be its chief innovation officer.

Dr Abraham’s extensive career in traditional packaged foods also includes stints at Nabisco Foods and General Mills' Pillsbury Company.

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