Today in obvious news: Legal weed puffs up snack sales

By Melissa Locker

Pot-induced munchies are such a well-known phenomenon that even enterprising Girl Scouts have cashed in on it, setting up cookie-hustling booths outside of marijuana dispensaries. If a phenomenon is so well known that even children know about it (no offense, children), it should not be a surprise to business sectors. And yet.

Market research firm Nielsen has released some new analysis showing that the rise of legal weed—marijuana is now legal for recreational use in 11 states and Washington, D.C.—is having a serious impact on the snack industry. As pot becomes more mainstream, according to Nielsen it is creating “big opportunities for the American food and beverage market—particularly for the snack and confectionery category.”

As recreational and medicinal marijuana becomes legal within the U.S., Nielsen data shows that sales of both salty and sweet snacks (munchies aren’t necessarily discriminating) have increased over the 52 weeks ending April 27, 2019, “with salty snacks reaching sales of $29.9 billion and sweet snacks hitting sales of $6.5 billion.”

Of course, that’s not entirely due to people smoking pot (legally) and finding themselves hankering for Totino’s Pizza Rolls, freezer burritos, spam and cheese ramen, and artisanal popcorn, but Nielsen was able to draw a correlation, showing that the snack industry has grown “demonstrably faster” in states that have legalized recreational marijuana sales than it did in states where it is still illegal.

In addition to snacks for stoners, Nielsen also notes that CBD edibles, which have little to no THC, “present a $6 billion opportunity for the food and beverage industry.”

As the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security debates marijuana reform at the federal level, a growing majority of Americans support legalization, and as more states look to legalize it, expect Big Snack to cash in on this trend.

That means working to appeal to munchie-havers with more spicy-chicken nuggets, Mayochup, mayonnaise– and pickle-flavored ice cream, and finger-cleaning Doritos.


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