Cannabis may be the next trend for a 'desperate' food industry

Professor of Agri-Food Distribution and Policy at Dalhousie says it's possible that 5% to 7% of food sold in Canada within 10 years may contain cannabis

An expert in food policy in Canada says cannabis may become the next super food trend in the coming decade.

"It's huge," says Sylvain Charlebois, Dean of the Faculty of Management and Professor of Agri-Food Distribution and Policy at Dalhousie University. "It is quite possible that 5% to 7% of food sold in Canada within 10 years may contain cannabis, including ready-to-eat, biscuits, desserts, and so on."

"You can see it as far-fetched," he continues, "but within ten years, our society will have a different relationship with cannabis. It will become a food ingredient."

Part of this trend may be driven by the industry needing to increase profits in a shifting retail market, says Charlebois. While the food industry has been buoyed by recent increases in interest in gluten-free products, this trend appears to be slowing down. Cannabis additives could provide a new 'gluten free' type market.

"This craze may seem surprising, but in the agri-food sector, there is a need to increase revenues," he says. "It is very difficult to do, and the margins are thin. The population is aging. Industry is desperate."

As chains like Shoppers and Loblaws begin to show interest in the medical cannabis market, Charlebois says it would be very possible to see the house brands owned by these chains begin to sell food products containing cannabis.

"It's quite possible to see Life, Quo or even Sanis, three private brands that belong to Shoppers, contain cannabis. And it is quite possible that Loblaws, Metro or IGA will produce foods containing them."

Legal medical cannabis companies in Canada have already begun moving into the natural foods market. Peace Naturals and Mettrum both have lines of hemp seed food products, and Tweed recently purchased an applicant in Quebec, Green Vert, who has also been operating in the space, producing a line of hemp products from skin care to hemp seed "super food."

Not all cannabis-infused food products will be about getting high, either. With the increasing interest in CBD products, the jump to CBD-fortified protein shakes or biscuits doesn't seem at all far fetched. The under-regulated, illicit market already carries these products, and hemp products in Canada are increasingly in demand. Health Canada even announced a recall of one hemp food product in Canada recently because it contained CBD. As acceptance of cannabis increases with legalization, the combination of novelty factor and market demand for the next superfood certainly point to a new market trend.


A Billboard in Ontario for hemp food products from a Canadian medical cannabis producer.

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