Consumers Increasingly Looking to Food as Medicine

CBD oil

CHICAGO — As cannabis becomes legal in more states and cannabidiol (CBD) gains mainstream acceptance, it is more important for retailers to consider the potential ramifications for the food and beverage industry, according to The NPD Group.

CBD in particular is not just consumed by a niche group; nearly 20 percent of adults have tried it in states where it is legal and nearly half of them have used it recently.

This number is expected to increase quickly as CBD is appearing in snack foods and beverages, consumers are becoming more comfortable with the idea and as many consumers plan to try CBD as currently use it, according to NPD's Health Aspirations and Behavioral Tracking Service.

Among CBD users, food and beverages are major pathways through which they seek to improve their lives, as 40 percent seek to better themselves through food and beverage choices. This statistic reflects the increasing use of food as medicine.

"There is definitely interest on the part of consumers in CBD but its future in the mass market is dependent on legalization, which is now a patchwork of state legislation," said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. "Even with the complexities of legalization, consumer acceptance and adoption of CBD as a food and medicine is an important topic for food manufacturers to keep on their radar screens."

Medical cannabis, which unlike CBD has contains THC, is on a similar path. Approximately 20 percent of adults have used it in states where it is legal, but non-users still have some hesitance about trying it. Despite negative stigma against cannabis, there remains a sizable group that has brought into the idea, NPD said. Additionally, CBD users overall are more likely to have medical conditions such as cancer, autoimmune diseases and ADD/ADHD.