Alan Walsh, Strategic Insights & Planning, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board

High Growth Forecast

Increasing evidence supporting the benefits of cannabis in treating certain diseases and ailments has spearheaded a shift in attitudes surrounding the drug.

The legal cannabis market (29 of the 50 states) in the US has surpassed $9billion, while the value of the market in Canada is expected to reach $1.3billion by year end 2018. A report by Arcview Group has estimated that worldwide spending on cannabis will reach $57billion by 2027. While North America is certainly leading the way in terms of legalisation, several other markets have introduced legislation for medicinal use e.g. including Germany, South Africa and Australia. While Spain and Portugal have fully decriminalised usage (Stylus, 2018).

Cannabis Infused Products

Rebel Coast Winery is a California based winery specialising in cannabis-infused wine. However, due to California law prohibiting mixing products with both alcohol and cannabis, the alcohol in their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc is removed.

Willie’s Reserve is perhaps one of the first instances of a celebrity launching their own range of cannabis products. Launched in 2015 by Long-time advocate Willie Nelson, products include cannabis pouches, pre-rolled ‘joints’ as well as edibles including cannabis-infused chocolate and sweets.

Californian Dreamin’ are a range of all natural cannabis-infused sodas, designed to give a “light social high”. Aimed at female Millennials, the product indicates a departure from the traditional “stoner culture” image associated with cannabis.

The rise in cannabis as an ingredient is not just limited to the retail shelves. in New York has been described as “the first cannabis fine dining experience”. A 9-course tasting menu is served, with cannabis varietals are tested to specifically balance the flavours of each dish as well as using the psychoactive properties to enhance flavours throughout the meal. The itself references a particular variety of cannabis known for its potency. (Bord Bia – Culinary Inspiration, 2017)


Given the lucrative nature of the market as seen in the US & Canada, there is no doubt that cannabis offers food & drink brands a unique opportunity to grow their product portfolio. Given the fledgling nature of the market, consumers are largely inexperienced regarding terminology, consumption formats and dosage. Therefore the key to growth for brands lies in educating consumers about the benefits cannabis through familiar product formats (Stylus, 2018)