Australia’s cannabis industry has hit the buffers in terms of product innovation, according to new data due to be released by FreshLeaf Analytics next month.
Speaking at the MCIA’s ACannabis EVOLVE conference, FreshLeaf managing director Cassandra Hunt revealed the total number of products on the market has risen from 150 to 190 in the last six months, but only one of those is in a new format.
She said: “In previous reports there’s been quite a lot of product innovation. We’ve seen new formats like wafers, patches, sprays and capsules. In this period, we’ve seen very little innovation. There’s one new format, which is chews.”
Hunt added that of the 40 products, some were not new, but were the result of companies taking existing products and moving to smaller formats to make them more price competitive.
She said not only was there less innovation, but companies are failing to articulate the benefits of different delivery methods to doctors, leaving them to make decisions based on price and hastening a race to the bottom.
Indeed, FreshLeaf’s price analysis for the period showed a significant drop in the floor price of legal medicinal cannabis compared to the 6c per mg reported in September 2020.
Hunt said: “I haven’t seen a really strong articulation of the value proposition of some of those products. Wafers are a fantastic, innovative product where patients can get fast relief. It’s really important for doctors to understand that, particularly in the context of a flower shortage.”
She added this presents an opportunity for the industry, as doctors tend to prescribe based on price, but only in the absence of other information.
“We know price is really important. The two things doctors think about when prescribing are ‘does the patient need to drive?’ and ‘what’s the cheapest price I can get for my patient?’
“But we know from our research that the cheapest products aren’t necessarily selling the highest volumes. We need to make sure doctors are aware when a new product is coming on to the market and that we’re making it really easy for them to understand why that product is better than any other.”