Largest Ever Study Into The UK CBD Market


Nearly 6 million adults have used CBD in the UK

The CBD market is now between 3-6 times larger than previously estimated with market research commissioned by The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) estimating that the emerging sector is now one of the fastest growing wellbeing product categories in the UK.

The CMC released the report ‘CBD in the UK: Towards a responsible, innovative and high-quality cannabidiol industry’ on June 27th making it the largest study ever undertaken in the UK. The report calls on politicians, policy-makers, regulators, producers and retailers to work together to turn the UK’s CBD sector into one that is innovative and responsible and which drives economic benefits, social value and and individual wellbeing.

The report is broken down into four key sections:

  • Market sizing - comprehensive economic analysis of CBD market in UK

  • Product testing - blind testing of 30 major CBD brands available on UK market

  • Consumer survey of 2000 members of the public by YouGov

  • CMC Policy recommendations - presented to senior officials at the UK Home Office, MHRA, Food Standards Agency and Department of Health and Social Care

Market Size Findings:

  • It estimates that 1.3 million UK consumers are now spending over £300m per year on CBD products which is bigger than the total UK Vitamin D market (£145m) and Vitamin C market (£199m) combined

  • The market is currently growing at double digits and expected to be worth almost £1bn per annum by 2025, a size equivalent to the entire current UK herbal supplement market

  • The majority of CBD users indicated that they purchased their CBD online

Product Testing:

30 CBD oil products sold at high-street chemists, health shops and online were blind tested by the Phytovista laboratory in Frome, Somerset. The main findings were:

  • Only 11/29 (38%) of the products were within 10% of the advertised CBD content

  • 11/29 products (38%) actually had less than 50% of the advertised CBD content

  • One product had 0% CBD

  • Almost half (45%) of the selected products had measurable levels of THC (mean content 0.04%)

  • 1 sample had ZERO cannabinoid content - this was a High Street pharmacy product (30ml) retailing for £90

  • 1 product had 3.8% ethanol (3.4% qualifies as an alcoholic beverage)

YouGov Survey Findings:

  • Approximately 6 million adults have used CBD in the UK  

  • 11% of the population had consumed a CBD product in the last year

  • Recent use rates were higher in the under 55 age groups, ranging from 15% of 25-34 year olds, to 7% of 55-64 year olds and 8% of those aged 65+

  • Usage was higher on average among females (13%) than males (9%)

  • Use was higher in Wales and Northern Ireland

  • Three quarters of respondents agreed that UK hemp farmers should be able to process hemp flowers and leaves to supply CBD market. Currently all CBD source material sold in the UK is imported

  • Knowing that the CBD product was made by a supplier that met recognised high standards (32%) and knowing that the contents were not contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals (25%) were the most important priorities when choosing a CBD product – far ahead of knowing that a CBD product was 100% legal (14%), or from where in the world it originated (5%)

  • Support for legalisation of cannabis among CBD users (75%) is higher than that of the total population (47%)

The Main Recommendations:

  • The government to amend existing out of date legislation

  • Regulators to provide clarity relating to current policy

  • The medical profession to invest in research

  • Business operators to embrace robust self regulation

The CMC will be making further announcements later this year as it moves towards creating the first credible, industry-owned self regulation initiative backed by reputable CBD companies operating within the UK, with a permanent laboratory testing and accreditation partner. Speaking at the launch of the report Steve Moore, CMC Founder and Strategic Counsel said:

“The wave of popularity around CBD, which offers huge opportunity for the UK itself, now needs to be grounded on a strong foundation of research, proportionate regulation, and quality standards. We intend The CMC to play a role in building that strong foundation.”

The industry has long needed a body like the CMC, which was formed in late 2018, to spearhead what will surely be a lengthy process to bring the various bodies involved in the industry together to work towards ensuring robust governance and better standards are implemented. The drive towards laboratory testing and an accreditation partner is a step in the right direction as will be a concerted effort to support UK producers to cultivate and product hemp based CBD products for the UK market.

You can read the full Centre for Medicinal Cannabis report here

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