Cannabis and CBD are growing not just in relevance but dollar sales as a segment of the food and beverage industry as states continue to legalize cannabis and consumers are interested in incorporating these substances into their lives. 

While cannabis and CBD in bakery remains an emerging market, the Brightfield Group, a cannabis data and research firm, found that CBD sales reached $5.3 billion in 2021, which was a 15% increase from the previous year. The firm projected CBD sales to reach $26 billion by 2026. The International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) launched the Cannabis Central Pavilion powered by Cannabis Products to provide attendees the information and connections they need to demystify this market. 

Cannabis-centered bakery is not new to IBIE. In 2019, the trade show included the topic in several IBIEducate sessions, but the impressive growth the category has seen despite the headwinds it faces in terms of regulations and legality necessitated a pavilion full of suppliers, bakers and other resources. 

“Cannabis sales in the U.S. amount to $25 billion and sales have increased over 40% in the past year,” said Pippa O’Shea, education manager, American Bakers Association. “So this is a huge opportunity for our baking industry, but there is a huge learning curve to understanding cannabis bakery products, how to enter, and operate legally in this niche segment of the industry. That’s why it was so important to have a centralized area where bakers and suppliers can learn about this together.”

Education sessions held at the pavilion covered a range of topics from how to start a cannabis business, formulating with cannabis, trends and regulatory challenges. These sessions were livestreamed and are now available on-demand so even audiences outside the trade show floor could benefit. 

“Now I’m honored to be a part of the educational piece,” said chef Keegan Gerhard, owner of D Bar restaurants, who spoke on “Masking Cannabis Flavor” at the pavilion. “We might be good bakers or pastry chefs, but we might not know marketing or technology. Well, there’s someone here in a seminar or a classroom who is teaching that.”   

Exhibitors in the Cannabis Central Pavilion included E.A. Bonelli & Associates Inc., Food EcoSystems, Cannabis Products, Baker Perkins, Plan It Packaging Systems, The Vivid Team and CMY Development.