Canada’s unsold cannabis inventory remains close to an all-time high, but the glut may be showing signs of easing as production fell sharply in December.
The amount of unsold dried cannabis held in stock by cultivators, processors, wholesalers and retailers levelled off in December at 1.14 billion grams, down slightly from a month earlier, according to the Health Canada data.
Some 96,000 kilograms of dried cannabis were produced by cultivators or processors and added to inventory in December 2020, close to a one-year low, according to the latest monthly data provided by the Canadian government.
The figure is 4.2% lower than December 2019’s 100,237 kilograms, and 56% lower than October 2020’s high of 220,461 kilograms.
December’s pullback came after cannabis production exploded in the fall, owing mostly to outdoor yields from “croptober” – when the fall outdoor harvest comes in. Production by federal licensees in September, October and November 2020 was 42% higher than the same period in 2019.
December inventory of dried cannabis consisted of:
- 1.03 million kilograms of unpackaged inventory with federally regulated cultivators or processors.
- 53,788 kilograms of packaged inventory with federal license holders.
- 57,381 kilograms of packaged inventory with provincial wholesalers and retailers.
Though production eased in December, the overall inventory of dried cannabis remained near an all-time high.
That could keep pressure on mass producers to cut production further until supplies of specific products sought by consumers more closely aligns with demand.
The massive glut of inventory, considered to be largely unsalable, has forced some large-scale licensed producers to scale back indoor and outdoor production.
Toronto-headquarters 48North Cannabis recently pulled the plug on its outdoor production in Brant County, Ontario, citing oversupply in the broader market.
Canopy Growth, based in Smiths Falls, Ontario, shuttered its outdoor operations in Saskatchewan alongside other facility closures last December.
Aurora Cannabis, one of the producers which had established a network of uneconomic greenhouses across the country, has been selling off properties in an effort to align its production with demand.
Despite high-profile pullbacks from open-air cultivation, some licensed producers are looking to expand production outdoors.
Aurora recently signaled its intention to nearly double its outdoor footprint this year by planting 40 acres of cannabis.
Licensed outdoor growing area in December 2020 grew to an all-time high of 67.6 million square feet.
At the same time, licensed indoor and greenhouse area in December 2020 fell to a one-year low of 18.7 million square feet.
Much of the licensed space is thought to be idled by struggling mass-producers of cannabis, as smaller companies appear to have picked up some of their sales.
December’s data dump will be the last monthly update by Canada’s federal health department. Health Canada will be updating the data quarterly, a spokesperson for recently told Marijuana Business Daily.
The monthly figures also address inventory and sales for extracts and edible cannabis products.
A record 1.8 million packaged units of cannabis extracts, including vape pens and softgels, were sold in the month of December, per the Health Canada data.
However, inventory with producers, wholesalers and retailers that month was 11.5 million packaged units.
Some 2.3 million packaged units of cannabis edibles were sold in December, a record, but inventory climbed to over 15 million packaged units.
Canadians purchased 109 million Canadian dollars ($87 million) worth of recreational cannabis edibles in 2020, the first full year they were available in the country.
Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected].