Consumer demand for CBD is on the up and up, with an astonishing array of CBD brands and products now available. Diverse individuals integrate CBD into their lives for a range of reasons and it’s no wonder–a recent study of CBD consumers found that almost 62% of users rely on CBD to treat a medical condition, and almost 36% of those respondents report that it treats their condition ”very well by itself”.
But in the midst of this rapidly growing market, it’s vital to check in on pricing, much like we did with our 2020 CBD pricing report published earlier this year. Are CBD consumers really getting what they are paying for? Why are some CBD products so much more costly than their counterparts in competing brands? Does more expensive necessarily mean better?
The newness of the emerging CBD market is still not fully subject to FDA regulations and rigor, leaving the consumer somewhat vulnerable to pricing–and quality–that falls along a very broad spectrum.
In response, Leafreport has undertaken the task of independently reviewing 137 leading brands, representing a total of 3203 products, to determine which are the most and least costly, with some surprising insights for the consumer.
Here’s our Leafreport CBD price report for 2021.
At Leafreport, our mission is to help promote transparency across the CBD industry and educate consumers so they can access the highest-quality CBD products for the fairest price. With an astonishing 4718% price difference between the cheapest and most expensive CBD brands in the same category, cross-comparing pricing across brands is absolutely essential.
Our methodology for this report adhered to the following protocol: We collected data about a total of 137 brands and 3203 products, recording the price of each and every product and then dividing it by the milligrams of CBD present in the product to create a standardized pricing reference point: price in USD per milligram of CBD. We then looked at the total average for each brand (in USD per mg of CBD) and created a 3-category price index (A, B & C) to easily compare brands.
A – “Bargain grade”– prices in this category range from $0.01-$0.076/mg CBD
B – “Market grade” – prices in the market grade category range from $0.077-$0.167/mg CBD
C- “Pricey grade” – prices were those above $0.168/mg CBD
In doing so, our goal was to create a consumer guideline and a simple series of benchmarks that could be easily used by CBD consumers to compare the quantity, potency and prices of various CBD products.
A massive chasm still separates the priciest CBD products from the most cost-effective. Of the numerous findings we unearthed during our research, the following findings stood out as the most compelling and revealing:
Read on to find out which brands ranked as the most expensive, and which ranked as the least expensive for each CBD category.
We spoke to some experts working in the world of CBD to source some insider insights about the driving factors that influence CBD pricing.
Steve Sakala, founder of Mana Artisan Botanics™ has focused his work on CBD-rich (cannabidiol) hemp strains for the past seven years. Sakala believes that there are four key factors that contribute to the price of CBD products.
“The obvious key factor is the price of the ingredients,” says Sakala. “Part of the reason we are now seeing much lower prices is that the market is now flush with CBD extract. The quality of the ingredients is going to have a major impact on pricing.” Sakala also points out that the cost of branding–often overlooked–also adds to the overall price.
“Another factor is the location of the business and the cost of doing business there,” he adds. “I would say the last major factor is the cost of labor–if the company is taking care of all its employees by paying them a living wage, that will need to be considered in the cost of the product.”
For CBD expert Winston Peki, founder of Herbonaut, the price disparity between CBD products is driven by the differences in cultivation processes, differences in production processes, and the prevalence of CBD resellers.
“I’ve extensively talked to CBD product producers both in the USA and Europe,” says Peki. “The growing conditions and quality of the hemp plant used as a source of the product, and the production process to produce the final product are the two major influences on price.” Some key cultivation factors that Peki highlights include:
Added to these are the costs associated with production of CBD products–production aiming for higher-quality extracts will result in more expensive products. “Products made exclusively with the resinous parts of the flower will be more expensive,” says Peki. Extraction and filtration processes also play a part in price. “Ethanol-extraction is more expensive than CO2-extraction, and filtering processes–the removal of unwanted compounds–always leads to higher costs,” he explains.
Finally, Peki emphasizes that not every CBD brand produces its own CBD oil. “There are many brands that simply re-sell or rebrand an existing product under a different name,” he says. “They want to earn a profit and their product will be relatively more expensive than a product that comes from a brand that’s vertically integrated.”
For co-founder of full-spectrum CBD retailer Kyoto Botanicals, Mark Gillian, the relationship between CBD product price and quality can be fraught with complexities.
“The price of CBD products does not necessarily convey everything you need to know about the product,” explains Gillian. “Some brands will always be cheap because they use the cheapest ingredients they can find and manufacture them in the cheapest way, thus reducing product quality and consistency. Some brands will spend more on R&D and product development to make higher-end products. I like to compare it to orange juice: cheap concentrate-based brands with artificial flavors versus a cold-pressed fresh juice at a juice bar.”
Gillian points out that lower priced CBD products generally are cheaper because they contain lower concentrations of CBD in the product. What’s more, they may have lower-quality CBD that is not grown or tested to ensure purity, or the product contains other sub-par ingredients.
However, Gillian cautions that higher-priced CBD products do not equate to better either. “That’s why it’s important to look for a brand that either is vertically integrated to control the hemp supply chain quality and/or uses organic hemp extract,” he recommends.
Sakala echoes Gillian’s sentiment that more expensive products do not necessarily mean better products. Sakala offers a quickfire checklist for assessing whether the quality of a more expensive product matches up with price:
Finally, Peki points out that price sometimes has very little to do with quality. “If you compare the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of various CBD products, you’ll find that some products that have really great cannabinoid and terpene profiles are more affordable than products with inferior cannabinoid and terpene profiles,” he reflects.
“Let’s say you find a cheap CBD isolate product, and compare how much 1mg of CBD costs vs. 1mg of CBD from a full-spectrum product,” says Peki. “The CBD isolate product looks cheap, however, the consumer doesn’t know that 1 mg of CBD from a full-spectrum product is significantly more potent–not every mg of CBD is created equal, or has the same effects.”
Peki adds that CBD isolate products should be significantly cheaper (in price per mg) than
true full-spectrum CBD product, because what really matters are the effects.
“When you look at the effects of 1mg of CBD isolate vs 1mg of full-spectrum CBD, that 1mg of full-spectrum CBD can turn out to be more effective than let’s say 5mg of CBD isolate, and so may be cheaper when you purely look at the produced effects,” Peki points out.
Below are the findings for each product category, with our breakdown of the average price of CBD per milligram, the most expensive brand, the least expensive brand, and price comparisons with data gathered last year.
Tinctures are popular CBD formulations that are taken orally. CBD tinctures can come in full spectrum format, broad-spectrum format, and as an isolate oil. They are often teamed with a carrier oil such as MCT oil that helps to deliver the cannabinoid and optimize its absorption.
Industrial Hemp Farms ranked with the cheapest full and broad spectrum tinctures at $0.01 per milligram of CBD. As they weren’t included in our 2020 report, there’s no way to compare this year’s pricing with that of 2020. Industrial Hemp Farms claim that they are one of the world’s top three distributors of hemp flowers and extracts, specializing in distributing CBD isolate, CBD distillate, and other hemp concentrates. There is no mention on their website of being USDA organic certified or Hemp Authority certified.
Her Highness CBD comes in as the priciest at $0.3 per milligram of CBD. Her Highness Sleeping Beauty CBD tincture boasts a broad-spectrum formulation containing 400mg of CBD and CBD per 15ml bottle. While the brand claims to use “naturally-derived, premium ingredients”, there is no mention on their website of being USDA organic certified or Hemp Authority certified. The tincture uses an extra virgin olive oil carrier base, enhanced with spearmint essential oil.
Last year, the average price of broad and full-spectrum tinctures was about $0.09 per mg of CBD. Overall, the cost of full spectrum and broad spectrum tinctures has remained the same. As a point of comparison with last year, the brand with the least expensive broad or full spectrum tincture was Lazarus Naturals at $0.03 per mg. CBD American Shaman came in as the most expensive tincture in this category in 2020 at $0.20 per milligram.
Industrial Hemp Farms emerged as the most cost-effective retailer of isolate tinctures, priced at $0.01 per milligram. As the brand wasn’t included in our 2020 report, there’s no way to compare this year’s pricing with that of 2020. Industrial Hemp Farms claim that they are one of the world’s top three distributors of hemp flowers and extracts, specializing in distributing CBD isolate, CBD distillate, and other hemp concentrates. According to the brand’s website, organic industrial hemp is used to create the isolate, however, it is unclear if the brand has been USDA organic certified or Hemp Authority certified.
Evolution CBD came out with the most expensive CBD isolate product, priced at $0.19 per milligram. There is no mention on their website of being USDA organic certified or Hemp Authority certified. The brand claims to adhere to batch testing, use a pure-ethanol extraction process, and to use ingredients free of heavy metals and insecticides.
In 2020, the average price of CBD isolate per milligram was $0.09, meaning the price of isolate tincture has decreased by one cent. Compared to last year, Leafreport found that Lazarus Naturals came in with the lowest-priced option for isolate tincture at $0.02 per mg. The most expensive brand of CBD isolate tincture in 2020 was Blue Moon Hemp at $0.18 per milligram.
CBD gummies, also known as edibles, are one of the most-user friendly ways to get your CBD fix. They’re also one of the most expensive ways to ingest CBD, because they’re more labor-intensive when it comes to manufacturing. Here’s the lowdown of CBD gummy pricing for 2021, and how it stacked up compared with 2020.
Once again, Industrial Hemp Farms emerged as the lowest-price brand when it came to CBD gummies, with gummies averaging $0.03 per milligram of CBD. Although there is no mention on their website of being USDA organic certified or Hemp Authority certified, according to the brand’s website the gummies are made using CBD isolate sourced from organically-grown hemp.
Blue Forest Farms came in with the highest priced CBD gummies, costing $0.27 per milligram of CBD. The Colorado-based operation states on its website that its products are cultivated using organic farming practices, but it is not USDA Organic certified or Hemp Authority certified.
In 2020, the average price of CBD gummies per milligram of CBD was $0.12, meaning the cost of gummies and edibles have decreased by two cents. Veritas Farms had the most expensive gummy in our 2020 study, priced at $0.21 per milligram of CBD. On the other hand, Half Day CBD came in with the cheapest CBD gummy option, priced at $0.043 per milligram of CBD.
CBD capsules and soft gels also represent another method of orally ingesting CBD, sometimes favored by those who prefer a more traditional approach to taking medicine. While they may not be the most popular method of taking CBD, they are easy for determining exact doses. Interestingly, this CBD category also has the smallest difference between the most expensive and lowest-price products–a difference of 495%.
Lazarus Naturals came in the most cost-efficient price for CBD soft gels and capsules, priced at $0.03 per milligram of CBD. The Oregon-based hemp farm has USDA Organic Certification, and plans to certify all of its products as USDA Organic in 2021.
Populum had the most expensive CBD capsule product, priced at $0.17 per milligram of CBD. On the Populum website, the brand claims to be vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and non-GMO, and to lead the industry by triple testing their products to verify purity and potency. The website doesn’t, however, claim USDA Organic certification or Hemp Authority certification.
In 2020, capsules also cost $0.09 on average, so the price has not changed. At $0.04 per mg CBD, Avid Hemp came in as the most cost-effective option for CBD capsules in 2020. Medical Mary was the most expensive with CBD capsules priced at $0.14 per mg CBD.
CBD creams and topicals take out the top spot as the most expensive CBD category on the market. They’re also the CBD category with the greatest discrepancy between high and low-priced products, with a dramatic difference of 4718%. Users looking for a CBD product to apply directly to their skin to ease muscle aches or tension can expect to pay more for products in this category.
At $0.04 per milligram of CBD, Naternal comes in as the cheapest option when it comes to CBD topicals, with its website declaring that the brand opts for ingredients that are natural, US-grown, and lab-tested. It does not state, however, whether it is USDA organic certified or Hemp Authority certified.
Our research revealed Kushly as the most expensive purveyor of CBD topicals at $1.69 per milligram of CBD. Kushly’s website states that it uses CBD derived from 100% organic, US-grown, GMO-free hemp. The website doesn’t state whether the brand is USDA Organic certified, or Hemp Authority certified.
CBD creams and topicals were priced at $0.25 in 2020, pointing to a notable price reduction of 5 cents. Interestingly, the highest and lowest price category winners remained the same: in 2020 Naternal came in with the lowest price per mg for topicals, at $0.032–slightly cheaper than the brand’s current pricing. Kushly boasted the most expensive product in the topical category in 2020, at $1.69 per mg CBD, the same as 2021.
Vaporized CBD represents one of the most fast-acting delivery methods available–provided the vape cartridge or E-liquid is manufactured by a trustworthy provider that doesn’t use harmful cutting agents. When it comes to pricing for these popular products, there was a sizable price difference of 1150% distinguishing the most expensive from the least expensive.
CBD Distillery came in as the least expensive brand in the CBD vapes and E-liquids category, with an average of $0.02 per milligram of CBD. The brand asserts on its website that it adheres to stringent industry guidelines set forth by the FDA, is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, and lab tests its products for potency & purity with third-party testing.
Her Highness CBD came in as the most expensive brand when it came to vapes and E-liquids, priced at $0.25 per milligram of CBD. It is unclear whether the brand is USDA Organic or Hemp Authority certified, but the website states that Her Highness uses premium, naturally-derived ingredients.
There was no change from 2020 to 2021 with the average price of CBD vapes and E-liquids remaining at $0.12. Last year’s most cost-effective vape/e-Liquid brand was Phenopen, priced at $0.021 per mg CBD. Provocan offered the most expensive CBD vape at $0.21 per mg CBD.
CBD isolate is essentially a highly purified form of CBD that looks like fine white crystals or powder. As evident in some research, CBD isolate may lack some of the therapeutic properties present in full-spectrum extracts. For users looking to avoid any traces of THC, CBD isolate may represent an attractive option.
Once again, Industrial Hemp Farms emerged as the lowest-priced brand when it came to CBD isolate, priced at $0.01 per milligram of CBD. The brand claims to retail high-purity CBD Isolate that is 99% pure. The website doesn’t state if its products are USDA organic or Hemp Authority certified.
Cibdol came out as the most expensive brand of CBD isolate, priced at $0.10 per milligram of CBD. The brand claims to manufacture the highest-quality, 100% natural CBD oils sourced from European hemp, subjected to a proprietary filtration process–but does not state whether its products are certified organic.
CBD isolate was priced at $0.03 in both 2020 and 2021, so there has been no change in pricing for this category. Last year’s most cost-effective CBD isolate brand was Bluebird Botanicals, priced $0.01 per mg CBD. The most expensive CBD isolate brand was CBD Living, priced at $0.08 per mg CBD–still cheaper than Cibdol at $0.10.
One of the surprise successes of CBD has been pet owners who have used the cannabinoid to help ease their animal’s anxiety or decrease chronic pain. Of the range of CBD pet products available, the most commonly used products are CBD pet tinctures and edibles.
A recent study exploring attitudes towards the use of CBD in pets found that most participants expressed support for use of CBD products for animals. Both the price of pet edibles and pet tinctures have decreased slightly from 2020, a change that many pet owners will welcome.
The pricing between brands in the same product family is still stark, however; a difference of 1257% demarcates the cheapest and most expensive edible brands, while the most expensive pet tincture costs 792% more than its lowest-priced counterpart.
Lazarus Naturals came in as the cheapest brand of CBD pet tincture, priced at $0.03 per milligram of CBD. The brand offers both full-spectrum and THC-free tinctures. The Oregon-based hemp farm has USDA Organic Certification, and plans to certify all of its products as USDA Organic in 2021.
King Kanine was found to have the most expensive brand of CBD pet tincture, priced at $0.29 per milligram of CBD. The brand claims to use hemp formulas that are entirely derived from all-natural, certified organic ingredients that are grown in the US and subjected to third-party testing. The brand’s products are Vermont certified organic.
Pet tinctures cost slightly more in 2020 than they do in 2021, with the price decreasing by one cent from $0.13 to $0.12 per milligram of CBD. Naternal came in as 2020’s least expensive pet CBD tincture at $0.042 per milligram CBD. Elixinol retailed the most expensive pet CBD tincture at $0.64 per mg CBD.
Made by Hemp came out with the lowest-price brand of pet edibles at $0.07 per milligram of CBD. The brand states that its products are subject to third-party testing, but there is no mention on the website of whether the brand, or its products, are USDA Organic or Hemp Authority certified.
Purekana came in with the most expensive CBD pet edible product, priced at $0.95 per milligram of CBD. The brand claims to source its CBD from USA-grown organic hemp that is also non-GMO, pesticide-free, and herbicide-free. The website doesn’t state whether the brand is USDA Organic or Hemp Authority certified.
In 2020, the average price of CBD pet edibles was $0.23 per milligram of CBD–meaning there has been a one cent price reduction from 2020 to 2021. Made By Hemp had the cheapest pet CBD edibles in 2020, priced at $0.08 per mg of CBD. Purekana had the most expensive pet CBD edibles in 2020 priced at $0.95 per mg CBD.
“Other products” encompasses the range of CBD products that do not fall into the standard categories outlined above–think CBD shampoo, CBD-infused peanut butter, and CBD hemp flower pre-rolls. As a result of this diversity, we found a marked discrepancy of 2325% between the high and low-priced products.
Provacan came out as the most expensive brand of “other” CBD product at $0.97 per milligram of CBD. The brand sells a range of alternative products such as CBD lip balm and CBD shampoo. The brand does not claim to use organic hemp, but states that it uses premium-quality CBD oil in its products that has been extracted using the market’s most advanced CO2 machinery, helping to ensure purity.
Compared with 2020, the cost of products categorized as “other” have decreased from $0.23 to $0.17–a significant 6 cent reduction.
So, what can the CBD consumer expect in the coming years? Does a growing demand for CBD equate to decreasing prices?
According to Gillian, rising demand for CBD drives up investment in hemp agriculture ultimately meaning the price of CBD will come down in the long-term–but it may take a while.
“Hemp farming and extraction is such a new industry that executing it at a scale that will impact the end product price will take a long time,” reflects Gillian. “As the category builds and more investment is made to increase production, technology and scale will allow the price to come down, but we are probably a decade away from that.”
Peki, however, foresees that the price of purified CBD isolate decreasing in the near future. “Purified CBD isolate is extremely cheap to produce compared to full-spectrum products that have a wide variety of cannabinoids and terpenes in high concentrations,” says Peki.
He believes products that are manufactured using purified CBD isolate, like certain gummies, could become significantly cheaper in the coming years.
For Sakala, the consumer has generally seen a decrease in the cost of CBD over the last two years. “I think we are at the bottom of the market so I’m not sure where things will go from here,” he reflects.
It’s certainly encouraging that across all the CBD product categories there have been no increases in price between 2020 and 2021. In general, CBD prices decreased from last year by 11.25%. Nonetheless, the significant discrepancies that differentiate prices between products in the same category points to market inconsistencies in CBD pricing. As a result, it really falls on the consumer to carry out their due diligence before purchasing a CBD product, to ensure they are receiving the highest-quality CBD extract at a fair price.
“Just because you pay more doesn’t mean you get more, so make sure the products have the test results proving they are selling what they say they are selling,” recommends Gillian. “Make sure to buy from a company that is open and transparent about where they source their hemp and other ingredients. This is a product designed to be taken every day, so you want to make sure what you are taking is safe and effective.”
Sakala is also optimistic that the increasing education of consumers will lead to higher-quality products–and more CBD users will lead to lower prices.“As CBD continues to become more normalized we will see a steady rise in adoption by consumers, which will also play a role in CBD price,” he reflects.
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