Gummies are among the fastest-growing categories in traditional confectionery, and that trend holds true in the edibles market.
Whether they’re new to cannabis or they’re long-time users, consumers seek out gummies for their familiarity, convenience, precision and buildability in dosing, and — not surprisingly — their taste, says Melissa Henry, director of marketing, Sunderstorm, Van Nuys, CA.
“For new consumers not interested in smoking or vaping, this makes consuming cannabis a lot more appealing and approachable,” Henry says. “It can also be very discreet, so you can easily take it on-the-go or at a place where smoking isn’t allowed. But most importantly, it’s very tasty.”
Market data illustrate the popularity of cannabis-infused gummies. BDSA, Boulder, CO, reports that edibles make up about 15% of the U.S. cannabis market. In 2021, candy occupied about 70% of the edibles market, and in the candy segment, 89% of sales came from infused gummy products.
Karli Warner, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Garden Society, Cloverdale, CA, also pointed to the possibility of experimentation, for brands and consumers alike.
“We are at the point in the cannabis industry where brands are free to have fun and play around with products — our Wine Country gummies are the perfect example,” Warner says. “The gummy category gives consumers the opportunity to enjoy and explore with easy-to-consume, discreet, cannabis products.”
Formulating for success
Quality gummies start with quality ingredients, says Tara Rozalowsky, interim chief product officer, Canopy Growth Corporation, Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada. When it comes to the company’s portfolio of Martha Stewart CBD products, the company works directly with Stewart to develop and test products before they go to market.
“Ingredient sourcing plays a key role in developing quality products, especially as it relates to taste, texture and the consistency of the consumer’s experience,” Rozalowsky says. “Martha Stewart CBD offers premium quality, hemp-derived gummies that are naturally flavored and deliver a delicious and consistent dose of CBD isolate.”
Sunderstorm also undertakes a rigorous flavor-testing process before releasing products. Henry notes the company’s R&D team, led by a PhD-holding organic chemist, is tasked with developing all-natural flavors, which posed a challenge when it came to creating Sunderstorm’s Kanha Sour Belts.
“We go through a three-tiered taste testing process before anything is sold to the consumer,” Henry says. “It has to pass a very high threshold of positive responses in order to make it to the next tier.”
In addition to flavor and texture, consistency is also a critical component in developing successful edibles. Henry says Sunderstorm has turned to automation to achieve high accuracy. It worked — the company’s Kanha Peach Gummies earned the title "Most Accurately Formulated Edible” from CannaSafe Analytics in 2019.
“We utilize high-end commercial equipment to ensure everything is measured exactly, mixed thoroughly, and portioned precisely, as we know how important consistency is from one gummy to the next,” Henry says.
Onset time is particularly significant for edibles consumers, since longer onset times could lead to overconsumption. Brands like Garden Society depend on rapid onset technology so consumers feel effects sooner and can better manage their experience.
“We make our gummies with our own proprietary full-spectrum cannabis oil to enable a rapid effect, which is usually around 15 minutes,” Warner says. “This is a highly-absorbable full spectrum extract using nanotechnology. Unlike a traditional edible that processes through one’s liver, the cannabis extract in these gummies transfers through the blood barrier in your mouth creating a rapid onset, which is ideal for those looking for a more immediate fix.”
Henry agrees, noting Sunderstorm first introduced fast-acting gummies in 2019.
“We researched a variety of fast-acting methods and decided to partner with VESIsorb, who is a pioneer in the fast-tech space that has been used by pharmaceutical space with some of the biggest brands in the world for decades, so we knew they were trusted and safe,” Henry says. “It utilizes an all-natural process to break down the cannabinoids so they become small enough to immediately enter into your bloodstream.”
Products on the market
Through Canopy Growth’s partnership with Martha Stewart, the company learned she is passionate about promoting wellness, as well as CBD, Rozalowsky says. She adds Stewart frequently uses CBD to enhance her own wellbeing.
“Through that passion, she set out to create the most delicious CBD products on the market, and she and Canopy Growth aligned on our shared dedication for bringing consumers innovative and quality CBD products,” Rozalowsky says. “The end result has been a line that Martha herself consistently uses, and the gummies taste as great as they make you feel.”
Martha Stewart CBD and Canopy Growth introduced their first CBD gummy offerings in September 2020, which included a Citrus Medley (Meyer Lemon, Kumquat and Blood Orange) and a Berry Medley ((Raspberry, Huckleberry and Black Raspberry). Harvest Medley, featuring Green Apple, Concord Grape, and Pomegranate, followed in October 2021.
In March, Martha Stewart CBD and Canopy Growth introduced Tropical Medley, which includes Alphonso Mango, Coconut, and Pineapple. In combination with multi-flavor sampler packs, the CBD gummies are available in 20 flavors.
“The team set out to create the most delicious CBD products on the market, drawing inspiration from Martha’s favorite recipes and flavor profiles from her greenhouse and gardens,” Rozalowsky says. “The result is a delicious daily dose of premium CBD isolate, with the gummies closely resembling the French confections, pâte de fruits.”
Similarly, Garden Society created Wine Country gummies as a nod to the brand’s base in Sonoma County. Warner and co-founder and CEO Erin Gore also both have experience in the wine industry, and Gore’s family owns Gore Family Vineyards.
Launched in late 2021, Wine Country gummies are available in three varieties:
- Tart Cherry Pinot Noir for Blissful Rest: Juicy flavors of ripe cherries are complemented by the light fruity flavors of a fine pinot noir. Features 5 mg THC/1 mg CBD per piece.
- Peach Prosecco for a Brighter Day: Taste buds will dance with juicy flavors of a ripe summer peach, complemented by the sparkling, fruity flavors of prosecco. Features 5 mg THC per piece.
- Sparkling Strawberry Rosé for Calm & Focus: Juicy flavors of a ripe summer strawberry are complemented by the light, fruity flavors of sparkling rosé. Features 1mg THC/5 mg CBD per piece.
“The wine country lifestyle is very much the essence of the Garden Society brand,” Warner says. “We love the many flavor profiles of wine and thought bringing together the cannabis and wine industries was a natural fit. The result is a flavorful, high quality cannabis infused gummy that quickly became in demand – whether you are a mom looking for a calm evening with our Calm and Focus, or you are heading to a concert with some girlfriends and grab a Brighter Day, the gummies truly fit every occasion.”
Sunderstorm’s Kanha portfolio includes a variety of gummy products to serve a range of consumer needs. In early 2021, the company introduced high-dose Kanha Belts, featuring two candy belts per package, each with 50 mg THC. They’re available in Strawberry Lemonade and Sour Cherry Limeade flavors.
“We knew there weren’t many options for what we call ‘whole or half bag’ consumers that need to consume more to feel the effects,” Henry says. “We also had a belt product back in 2016 that was very popular, so we knew there was an audience for it. Not only is it higher-dose with two 50 mg belts per bag with five 10 mg segments each, but they’re also fun to eat. Also, since we knew this consumer would be eating more in a sitting, we made it smaller and with less sugar per portion than our regular gummies. And now that we’ve recently relaunched them to be sour, they really do pack a punch.”
Sunderstorm recently partnered with Buddies to introduce Liquid Diamonds Live Resin Gummies. Launched in California in February, the gummies feature Buddies’ Liquid Diamonds Live Resin Oil.
Henry says the company decided to move into the live resin arena after conducting research that revealed certain consumers — who prefer smoking or vaping as their primary mode of consumption — enjoy tasting cannabis’ unique terpene and flavor profiles in edibles.
“In order to enter the live resin space, we thought it would be better to partner with someone who is known for their strain-specific live resin oil and tap into that expertise,” Henry says. “We had discussions with several outstanding companies, ultimately deciding to partner with the Buddies team because of the quality of their product and shared company values.”
Sunderstorm’s first live resin product was the BaNANO Gummies, featuring a Bananas Foster flavor paired with Buddies’ Blue Banana strain. The Kañha Colada flavor followed, created with Buddies’ Sour Strawberry strain.
“It was a wonderful marriage in letting the flavors of the strain shine through, perfectly complemented by the gummy flavor we developed,” Henry says. “We’re so excited to continue down this path, and are looking forward to releasing new limited-edition flavors on a biannual basis.”