A “growing tide of customers” benefiting from the pain and anxiety alleviation properties CBDs offer isn’t even human; in fact, its members are pets, says a new market report on hemp-derived products.
But, interestingly, this CBD pet market is “truly taking off,” the report, issued today from data-intelligence company Brightfield Group, says: In 2020, pet CBD sales are growing to an estimated $426 million.
The pet market is one of the few bright spots in a somewhat bleak document whose overall message is that, “In the first half of 2020, CBD companies are experiencing a loss in revenue due to store closures and consumer concerns about coronavirus and their finances.” High unemployment, temporary brick-and-mortar-store closures and price compression have been related problems.
In the pet market, meanwhile, what might be surprising to some observers is the fact that veterinarians are being largely left on the sidelines of this new Fido-based market phenomenon. With good reason: Even as pet owners buy up increasing amounts of tinctures, treats, capsules and topicals, telling researchers that traditional medications don’t do enough, vets are wary of getting involved due to the the murky regulatory environment.
“Only California has passed legislation that specifically authorizes veterinarians to discuss cannabis (including CBD) with their clients, but still does not allow for the ability to prescribe CBD,” the report states.
California Assembly Bill 2215 may prohibit the state’s Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) from taking disciplinary action against vets for discussing medicinal uses of cannabis, but it also prohibits animal doctors from dispensing or administering these products to their patients.
Meanwhile, the VMB, in January, published guidelines for how veterinarians can discuss cannabis with their patients’ human owners. An important reason for the limitations is the lack of clinical data available with which vets can back up any statements.
Despite this reason to pause, however, pet owners are still apparently believers: The report says that by 2025, as more clinical data becomes available and policies evolve, allowing veterinarians to speak more freely, pet CBD can be expected to make up a $1.1 billion market.
That kind of estimate has naturally drawn rapt attention from big pet-product players like Pedigree, Eukanuba, 31 Whiskas, Iams and Purina. Chains like Petco and PetSmart and the specialty chain Bentley’s Pet Stuff, meanwhile, have been selling CBD products since 2020. And, while dogs have been the main market target until now, products are being developed for cats, birds and horses.
In the current market, products range in price from $20 treats to $200 high-dosage or high-volume tinctures, which make up the largest share of the pet market. Among the pet stores that Brightfield contacted in 2019 for this study, all of those carrying CBD stocked tincture products; 80 percent offered treats or other edibles; and less than half carried topicals or capsules.
Meanwhile, the rest of Brightfield’s 72-page report addresses the “saturated” CBD marketplace in general, pointing out that the top 20 CBD companies have technically lost share but still “maintain the majority piece of a new larger pie.” In addition, the heightened competition since the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp products legal may mean tough times for smaller companies.
Still, the report says, there’s “room for innovation.” In fact, despite the backdrop of the virus, companies are continuing to introduce new products. And here, flavors aren’t the focus anymore so much as functional ingredients like elderberry, melatonin and turmeric as well as the minor cannabinoids CBG and CBN.
One overriding problem, besides the virus, Brightfield says, is that CBD products are in “regulatory limbo” since the FDA doesn’t currently allow these products to be marketed as dietary supplements or added to food. But that won’t last forever.
“In the likely case that the FDA creates a regulatory framework for CBD to be marketed as dietary supplements and the mainstream market continues to embrace hemp-derived CBD across the country, the market is expected to grow rapidly, reaching $16.8 billion by 2025,” the report predicts.