CBD market in UK booms as hemp ag develops slowly

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As the international CBD sector rapidly develops, the United Kingdom’s slow pace at developing hemp farming puts the country at a disadvantage. That is among key findings from the UK’s Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) based on commissioned research recently released.

“The complex global supply chain for CBD is scaling quickly,” CMC said in an executive summary of the report. However, “the industry in the UK is not building from the same agricultural foundation that other countries take for granted, and this undermines UK competitiveness in a key growth sector.”

‘Hype likely to endure’

Despite that weakness, the size of the UK CBD consumer market is between 3-6 times larger than previous estimates of £100-300 million (€1.12-3.36 million) per year and continues double-digit growth that could see it reaching nearly £1billion (€1.12 billion) by 2025, the report estimates. 

“Several indicators suggest the current ‘hype’ around CBD is likely to endure and is not a passing fad,” according to the report. “CBD’s popularity in the UK has been hard to gauge, but new data for this report indicates that it has reached a level of market penetration that is unlikely to dissipate.” 

The report observes that CBD consumption cuts across age groups and socioeconomic classes in the UK, giving rise to a competitive if “largely unregulated” CBD sector. marked by dynamic product development and strong revenue growth. 

Research not comprehensive

Still the authors caution that estimates of the size and nature of the CBD market in the UK are not comprehensive, noting: “Without an accurate picture of how UK consumers are buying CBD, in what product categories, where and for what reason, it is difficult to devise effective policy and proportionate regulations.”

Poor practice and the irresponsible promotion of CBD products indicate the need for self-regulation, according to the report. “Business operators (should) embrace robust self regulation” and stakeholders should focus on compliance and public education, the report said, adding: “Credibility will come from advancing the evidence base.”

CBD ‘a permanent fixture’

Calling on the government to amend existing out of date laws that affect CBD, the report also said UK regulatory agencies should regard the sector as “a permanent feature of the wellness sector that is likely to expand in the future.

“This requires regulators to have a better understanding of the market, the habits and motivations of consumers, and the business practices of CBD companies operating in the UK,” the report suggests. 

Product research that was a part of the CMC study found that almost half of 30 CBD products being sold in the UK recently tested hot for THC, recording double the generally accepted standard of 0.2% across Europe.

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