My Predictions For Global Cannabis Trends In 2023
The cannabis industry moves quickly and seems to change daily. Yet, if we follow the trends, a few forecasts become clear. The following predictions are based on my experience working directly with operators worldwide, giving me an informed perspective on where this industry may be headed. Of course, we must not forget that this is the cannabis industry we’re talking about, and it has the ability to surprise us on a whim.
That said, here are my regional projections for cannabis industry development in 2023:
Canada: Bring On The Craft Cannabis Creators
We’ve seen trends toward fewer and fewer fully vertically integrated operations; I’d expect this to continue, with fewer large-scale, cultivation-only operations and more niche processors creating new product types. This is the more obvious macro trend in the country. What’s unexpected is that we’re seeing tons of new small-scale craft producers set up shop. Perhaps next year will be the “Year Of The Craft Grow!” These operations, with unique origin stories and well-defined brands, are set up for success (and haven’t overextended themselves) in a market that doesn’t reward overcapacity.
Europe: EU GMP Standards Will Have A Global Impact On Production
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is a system of regulations that ensure medicinal products meet quality standards that governments, brands and consumers can trust. These protocols touch on all aspects of manufacturing, from the base materials, production facility and equipment, to the training and even personal hygiene of staff. This year, Europe will continue to lead the charge in introducing GMP standards worldwide, influencing operators in every country that want to export cannabis into the EU.
Companies preparing to enter the global market must understand EU GMP and GACP compliance and work these regulations into their operational practices for either source material or finished products. Business owners that are new to this concept could find it hard to compete with other cannabis brands that have followed these standards since legalization. This requires advanced preparation that should be a part of all business planning.
Europe maintains strict manufacturing standards and won’t allow cannabis businesses to operate within their countries without following EU GMP. Any team wanting to export products internationally must adhere to these production standards, which could present significant obstacles for global cannabis brands to overcome to open up the lucrative European market.
Africa: Can South Africa Step Up To Lead The Way
I’ve toured many South African cannabis farms, and they’re all doing a great job of ramping up production and professionalizing operations. I think S.A. will solidify its lead in the amount and quality of the cannabis it produces. Perhaps a country leading in this way will precipitate others in Southern Africa to become regional players, like Lesotho, Malawi or Zimbabwe.
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Outside of Southern Africa, there is little to watch out for in the coming year.
LATAM: The Buzz Is About To Boom
Latin America is bubbling over with opportunity. I’ve seen an incredible influx of new deals in this continent, specifically wanting software that works globally and manages EU-GMP compliance.
This suggests that groups are professionalizing and looking to make their mark locally and on the global stage (which is the only reason a business would invest in global-level cannabis software). My impression is that there’s been a lot of smoke and no fire in the region until this point. Watch Colombia, particularly as they ramp up production and become key exporters to Europe and the rest of the globe.
Thailand: The ‘Wild West’ Of Eastern Cannabis Markets
We’ve seen lots of action in Thailand lately, including crackdowns on the widespread grey market. I predict they will be production leaders in 2023 (and beyond) as well as outliers in the incredibly strict broader Asian cannabis landscape. It’s so interesting there; you can walk into convenience stores and get edibles. There are already over 200 retail locations in Pattaya alone. Weed in Thailand, a website that helps you find cannabis, lists over 2,400 results nationwide. This market isn’t inching forward; it has the accelerator pedal floored. This is very advanced for a newly legalized country, particularly one with strict penalties just a few months ago.
The cannabis industry is globalizing, and 2023 is looking to be a big year for proving that cannabis can be a regulated and profitable commodity for the countries choosing to get involved.