The CBD market growth - UK Trends and projections

The CBD market growth - UK Trends and projections

Author

As a qualified medical nurse and journalist with a diploma in clinical research and medical writing, Lydia's mission is to make as much of the peer reviewed cannabis clinical literature understandable to the public as possible.

According to MarketWatch, searches for “CBD” and “cannabidiol” hit an estimated 6.4 million in April this year. Of all the health-related searches on Google, CBD ranked number four. This demonstrates the marked interest and enthusiasm surrounding CBD, not only here in the UK, but globally. 

The increasing legalisation of CBD plus the discovery of its vast potential in possibly enhancing health and wellness is expected to drive the growth of the CBD market even further. This article examines CBD trends in Europe and the projections that have been made for the CBD industry.

Is CBD legal in the UK?

CBD was legalised in the UK in 2018. Beginning on 13th February 2020, CBD oils, supplements, foods, and beverages were classified as novel foods and hence they require a novel food application.

There is a general misconception that the legal limit for THC in CBD products in the UK is 0.2%. The 0.2% applies to hemp cultivation and not CBD products, whose limit for THC is 1 mg of THC per package.

What is the size of the CBD market in the UK and Europe?

A report by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis indicated that the UK CBD market was worth £300 million in 2020 and was expected to be worth £1 billion by 2025. Increased funding for CBD research and increased awareness of the potential benefits were mentioned as key drivers of growth. The report also indicated that close to 11% of adults in the UK take CBD products regularly, showing a growing acceptance of the potential benefits of cannabis. As the market in the UK continues to grow, there is likely to be an increased need for high-quality legal CBD products.

According to the European CBD report that was published by cannabis industry analysts Prohibition Partners, CBD products worth close to €1.7 billion were sold in Europe in 2022. The market is expected to expand even further to close to €2.6 billion by 2026. According to the authors of this report, the European Union (CJEU) ruling that indicated that “CBD is not a narcotic drug” has contributed to the growth of the industry. The market is expected to continue to grow as more CBD products get novel food approvals.

Latest CBD trends in Europe

The European CBD report shed light on various CBD trends across Europe. One of the most important things to note is that awareness of CBD is high, with over 50% of the adults surveyed reporting that they were knowledgeable about CBD. This was attributed to the inclusion of CBD in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) portfolios, as well as the increased prevalence among mainstream retailers.

Of the 5,234 people surveyed across Europe, 11% reported that they had applied a CBD product in the last 12 months. Poland had the highest prevalence of CBD administration, which was at 15% of the population surveyed. This is in tandem with Poland’s development as the CBD hub in Europe. Italy had the lowest prevalence of CBD administration, at 8%.

The report showed that CBD administration was more prevalent among those aged 50 and under. It seems like the older generation is more sceptical about CBD and could still be affected by the stigma that is attached to cannabis use, medicinal or not. At the same time, the younger generation is usually more eager to try out new products.

Popular CBD products in the UK

The study by Prohibition Partners surveyed 955 CBD users to determine their CBD purchasing habits. They found that over 56% of consumers have taken CBD oils and tinctures, making this the most popular product category in Europe. In comparison, flower has remained the most popular cannabis product in the US, even though other product categories are catching up.

Oils and tinctures are familiar formulations under the health and wellness categories. In addition, they are easy to dose and administer. Unlike flower, oils and tinctures are unlikely to draw attention, and this makes them more appealing in light of the pervasive stigma that is associated with cannabis.

CBD flowers are the second most popular product category in Europe. However, they are regulated quite differently since they are not classified as novel foods. In the UK, CBD flowers cannot be marketed legally. The case is different in Spain, Switzerland, and Italy, where the cannabis laws are more liberal.

Barriers to CBD administration in Europe

A significant proportion of Europeans have never tried a CBD product. The Prohibition Partners report sought to understand why. It emerged that those who have not used CBD are sceptical about the potential benefits of CBD that they may see as having been over-marketed. 

Other factors include misinformation about dosing and what to expect from the different CBD doses and formulations. Lastly, the respondents cited price as a barrier to accessing high-quality CBD products. With more participants joining the legal CBD industry, competition is likely to drive prices down and allow more consumers to access CBD at affordable rates.

The future of the CBD industry in the UK and Europe

Laws and regulations on CBD vary across European countries, and in a number of countries CBD is sold under grey market conditions. Despite the lack of regulation, CBD is the most popular CPG product across Europe. 

In the last couple of years, different reports have indicated a sharp spike in CBD sales and hence growth in the CBD market. Key drivers of growth have been positive changes in law, increased awareness about the potential benefits of CBD and the availability of diverse product formulations. Currently, oils and tinctures are the most popular CBD products. The value of the CBD market in Europe was close to €1.7 billion in 2022 and is expected to hit €2.6 billion by 2026. Unfortunately, cannabis stigma is still rife and is a deterrent to older consumers who may wish to experiment with CBD.

Conclusion

The European CBD market is set to continue growing at a rapid rate in the coming years. This will open up more opportunities for businesses looking to enter this lucrative sector, and also access for researchers to further investigate the potential benefits of CBD. As the market continues to evolve, so will consumer preferences and demands, meaning that there is a need for businesses to adhere to the stringent legal requirements and get novel food authorisation where required. 

A lack of awareness about dosing and its potential benefits is an obstacle for some consumers, and this could be addressed through more education. However, with more countries across Europe legalising the sale of CBD products, it looks like the industry is about to explode, in all the right ways.

Releaf is committed to helping you access the benefits of a medical cannabis service. Our monthly packages are tailored to your cannabis prescription, and we offer specialist consultations for medical cannabis and a unique medical cannabis card for protection.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.


Related Articles

03. 11. 2023

Awaiting Asian Adventure? Considering cannabis-based legislations when travelling in Asia

Daydreaming of exploring Asia’s incredible landscapes, culture, and vibrant cities is a common occurrence for many, and nations like the Philippines and Singapore feature on bucket lists around the world as a ‘must-see destination’. But, Asia is also extremely well known for enacting strict punishments to suspected drug smugglers and traffickers.

03. 11. 2023

Could Oceania be your Oasis? An Overview of medical cannabis rules and regulations in Oceania

Dreaming of idyllic white sand beaches and secluded spots in Polynesia, or experiencing extreme outback adventures in Australasia is a desire shared by many, and places like Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia feature on many people’s bucket lists. Yet, for medical cannabis patients, planning their dream holiday may be filled with dread - due to the confusing and often conflicting cannabis regulations in different countries.