Gummies are among the most-loved traditional confectionery formats, and that trend has only intensified in the U.S. cannabis edibles market.
BDSA, Boulder, CO, reports gummies made up 60 percent of first-quarter edibles sales in the states covered by its product-level Retail Sales Tracking. Other confectionery formats, such as chocolate, hard candy, and taffy, represent less than 25 percent of the market.
Tara Soltow, VP of marketing, PLUS Products, Inc., San Mateo, CA, attributes the gummy format’s success to its versatility.
“Gummies check the box on nearly every attractive attribute that other edibles might tout,” she says. “They provide the portability of tablets and mints with the variety in colors and flavors of lozenges and chews, and the satiating, flavorful experience you’d get from other candies such as chocolate.”
While gummies easily deliver on taste and enjoyment, they also serve as a vehicle for supporting and encouraging consumers’ most desired mood and need states.
Characteristics of quality gummies
Quality gummies start with a strong foundation — well-sourced ingredients that exceed consumers’ standards.
Jason DeLand, co-founder and executive chairman, dosist, Los Angeles, says the company took a mindful approach to developing its gummy products, which launched in California earlier this year.
“We are very intentional about going way above and beyond what is required in the industry to sell and doing things (as) if we were doing them for ourselves with unlimited resources,” he says. “That’s something that I think is so important in the food category in general. I love the local farm-to-table movement. We're taking some of those exact same principles, and we're applying them to the world of cannabis.”
The company’s gummies are vegan, non-GMO, and are 85% organic — only the granulated sugar coating isn’t organic, DeLand says. He also pointed to dosist’s use of organic pectin, which allows the gummies’ botanical flavors to shine.
Wana Brands, Boulder, CO, uses pectin in its formulations as well, along with natural colors and flavors. The company also sweetens its gummies with organic sugar and organic tapioca syrup.
“The ingredients that go into these products are key, and inferior ingredients can detract from their quality in an obvious way,” says Wana Brands CMO Joe Hodas.
Careful consideration is also critical to developing flavor profiles. Ari Mayer Mackler, chief product officer, PLUS Products, says working with the cannabis plant’s unique properties and keeping the product’s end goal in mind are important factors.
“Our R&D team are real artisans, and they assess each project with an eye towards the objective of the edible,” Mackler says. “If the gummy is a sativa, they build flavors that will compliment and help to create a more uplifting experience. If the gummy is an indica, they pair it with flavors that are more nuanced and calming. If the gummy leverages a complex ingredient like hash, they work hard to construct a flavor that matches the unique nature of the ingredient.”
Wana Brands drew inspiration from popular cocktails for its portfolio of Wana Quick Fast-Acting Gummies. The original lineup, launched in March 2020, includes 5 mg gummies in Limoncello Hybrid, Peach Bellini Sativa, Piña Colada Indica and Strawberry Margarita 1:1 CBD/THC varieties. The company recently launched 10 mg pieces in Appletini Hybrid, Colorado Sunrise Sativa, and Island Punch Indica options.
“With our entire Fast-Acting Happy Hour line, we matched flavor with intended use,” Hodas says. “We employed the happy hour flavors because they’re all very enticing flavor profiles and appeal to consumers for use in social settings.”
Edibles have long been characterized by protracted onset and offset periods, but that’s changing, particularly in the gummy space. Manufacturers are shortening onset times with the goal of reducing the potential for overconsumption.
In December 2020, PLUS Products introduced its PLUS Strains brand, which pays homage to well-known cannabis varieties that consumers have enjoyed for years. The line includes:
- Pineapple Express: With a juicy pineapple punch to the palate, thanks to the combination of β-caryophyllene, myrcene and limonene terpenes, these gummies deliver a smooth, yet hard-hitting hybrid effect. They include natural pineapple and mango flavors.
- Granddaddy Purple: An indica through-and-through, GDP’s distinct terpene blend fuses calming feelings with relaxing vibes. The prominence of pinene, myrcene and β-caryophyllene makes this gummy perfect for squashing stress, sleepless nights and annoying aches and pains. They include natural marionberry, muscat grape, and hibiscus flavors.
- Lemon Jack: With a potent blend of nearly a dozen terpenes, including an abundance of terpinolene, β-caryophyllene and limonene, PLUS' Lemon Jack gummy fights fatigue and fog and fuels focus and euphoric feelings. They include natural Meyer lemon and Eureka lemon flavors.
Wana Brands’ Fast-Acting Gummies are powered by Azuca’s TiME (Thermodynamic Individual Molecular Encapsulation) technology, which allows cannabinoids to bypass the liver and enter the bloodstream immediately. Most consumers feel the effects in less than 15 mins and have a delta-9-THC experience that lasts two to four hours.
“When it comes to edibles as a whole, the effect and onset time are two of the most important aspects for the consumer's overall experience,” Hodas says. “Gummies are the ideal cannabis edible delivery method due to bioavailability and effectiveness. In addition, the fast-acting technology we utilize to speed up onset isn’t effective in chocolate or bakery items because the THC attaches differently to fats, and gummies are fat-free.”
PLUS Products’ newest gummies leverage onset and offset times to promote restful sleep.
Available in Cloudberry and Lychee varieties, the Dual Action Sleep gummies’ nano-emulsion technology embeds the THC molecule in a hydrophobic solution that increases bioavailability. This method allows for the THC to stay dissolved throughout its transit to the GI tract, where it is then absorbed into the bloodstream.
The low doses of THC — 1 mg in Lychee and 5 mg in Cloudberry — decrease sleep onset latency and increase both slow-wave sleep and total sleep time. Meanwhile, CBN, CBD, and a blend of sleep-focused terpenes, including myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, and linalool, among others, help to ensure a longer-lasting sleep.
“We’re very excited to be able to offer a dual action mechanism that delivers both fast-acting and long-lasting effects,” Mackler says. “This allows the consumer to fall asleep quicker and enjoy a longer, more restful night of sleep."
In September, Wana Brands introduced Wana Optimals Fast Asleep Gummies. Each piece includes 10 mg CBD for calming and relaxing effects; 2 mg CBN to lower stress, relieve tension, and alleviate physical discomfort; 2 mg CBG for its relaxing and anti-inflammatory effects; 2 mg THC, which works with the CBD to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm; 1 mg melatonin; and 30-plus specialized terpenes, chosen for their sleep-promoting properties.
Hodas notes the next Wana Optimals product will focus on fitness and wellness and will contain the rare, minor cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv).
DeLand says he was interested in the cannabis plant’s many historic uses before dosist’s founding, and he sees its potential for relieving ongoing health concerns.
“I would say the two biggest human health problems that we have globally are a mental health crisis, and we have an inflammation crisis,” he says. “That really has to do with the modern context of how we live, how we think, how we eat, and it wreaks havoc on our endocannabinoid system. Therefore, cannabis has a real role to play.”
In April dosist debuted its performance gummies, formulated to address three need states:
- Sleep: Featuring a 5:1 THC to CBN ratio in a Blackberry Lavender flavor
- Bliss: Featuring 5 mg THC in both Wildberry and Lemon Lime flavors
- Calm: Featuring a 1:10 THC to CBD ratio in Lemon Balm Citrus
Following in August, dosist health introduced CBD+ Gummies, building on the same flavor profiles and use occasions:
- Sleep: Made with natural Blackberry and Lavender flavors, these gummies feature 25 mg CBD and 2.5 mg CBN per piece.
- Calm: Made with a Lemon Balm Citrus flavor these gummies feature 25 mg CBD and 5 mg CBG per piece.
Rounding out dosist’s collection are the Live Resin gummies, created in collaboration with live resin expert Bear Extraction House. Given dosist’s background in developing vaporization products, DeLand says the company wanted to incorporate the inhalation experience into an edible format. Each piece contains 10 mg THC and features a Wild Orange flavor.
In a similar vein, PLUS Products recently collaborated with Biscotti Hash to introduce PLUS Hash Gummies, made with solventless, ice water hash from the hybrid strain Miracle Alien Cookies. Each piece contains 10 mg THC and 0.25 mg CBD, along with Valencia Orange, Seville Orange and Orange Blossom flavors.
Mackler says the first limited-edition run sold out almost immediately, so PLUS Products released a second limited run in July.
“We partnered with Biscotti because they know hash better than anyone in the industry,” he says. “Their cold-water extraction process preserves the hash’s complexity, and we knew this would help us craft an extraordinary gummy.”
Image Source: Courtesy of dosist, PLUS Products, and Wana Brands