Wholesale prices for hemp products displayed stability in 2023, but also some surprising movement in some cases, depending on the product type and the sector. The good news for hemp-CBD businesses is that it appears that the bottom of the market in terms of prices is behind us. Other hemp-cannabinoids that are newer to the market will likely continue to see price compression as their novelty wears off and manufacturing efficiencies are implemented. However, if CBD prices start to climb, that will put upward pressure on prices for delta-8 THC and other compounds that are manufactured from CBD.
Based on reports out of a major industrial hemp growing state, hemp fiber and grain prices experienced positive movement in 2023. If such trends continue, it could bring more growers into those markets and increase production, assuming processors have the capacity to continue to contract increased acreage.
CBD Biomass opened 2023 with an overall wholesale price of $0.25 / %CBD / pound. It generally declined through the first half of the year, eventually falling to its annual and all-time low of $0.22 / %CBD / pound in July. Price then commenced a climb to $0.27 / %CBD / pound as of November, its highest point of the year at the time and highest level since August 2022.
Overall for 2023, the aggregate assessed wholesale price of CBD biomass averaged $0.24 / %CBD / pound, off 20% from 2022 and less than half of 2021’s mean biomass price.
Smokable CBD Flower was one of the few product categories to see a year-on-year rise in its average wholesale price in 2023. CBD flower’s wholesale price in 2023, inclusive of all grow types, was up 4% from 2022. 2023’s mean wholesale price was comparable to 2021’s average price per pound.
Smokable hemp flower is now being sold with delta-8 THC or other cannabinoid distillate applied to it to create a psychoactive product, expanding the demand for such flower as supply has contracted and helping keep wholesale prices firm.
The assessed wholesale price of Crude CBD Oil followed a similar trajectory to that of CBD biomass. Crude oil’s wholesale price declined to an annual and historic low in June. It bounced back in the second half of the year, hitting an annual high in October. Crude CBD oil’s average wholesale price in 2023 was down 11% from 2022 and off 41% from 2021.
Wholesale prices for CBD Distillate were generally up in 2023 versus 2022, but only by a small margin. For 2023, the Refined Hemp Oil category, which includes various types of CBD distillates, saw its average price increase slightly from 2022, rising by $3 per kilogram. Still, prices for CBD distillates in 2022 and 2023 represent a roughly 44% downturn from the observed annual average price in 2021.
CBD Isolate saw its assessed wholesale price fall to a historic low late in 2023, matching a trough first established in June 2023. Overall for the year, CBD isolate’s average wholesale price was down 9% from 2022 and 34% from 2021.
Despite falling to historically low levels in 2023 – or late in 2022, in the case of CBD distillates – it appears that wholesale prices for CBD biomass and extracts found their bottoms and are set to climb, though how much value can be regained after such extreme price erosion is an open question at this point.
Still, there is undeniably strong demand for delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids that are largely manufactured from CBD Isolate. If that sector of the industry is allowed to continue to operate at scale, it can be assumed that consistent supplies of biomass and extracts at production levels higher than those seen in the last two years will be required to supply demand for such products.
Even with strong demand for products with hemp-derived isomers of THC, wholesale Delta-8 THC Distillate still saw some price compression in 2023, after experiencing significant erosion in wholesale prices through 2021 and the first half of 2022. Overall, though, the last 18 months have seen prices for the key THC isomer stabilize.
For 2023, delta-8 THC distillate’s average wholesale price decreased 11% from 2022. In H2 2022, however, delta-8’s average wholesale price was comparable to 2023’s.
Delta-10 THC Distillate appears to be lagging a bit behind delta-8 in terms of price stabilization, having seen its wholesale price fall to the lowest levels ever observed late in 2023. For 2023, delta-10 distillate’s average wholesale price was down 31% from 2022. Monthly average rates for delta-10 fell below $1,300 per kilogram in the final two months of last year.
As we discussed in a recent interview with a large-scale hemp-cannabinoid product manufacturer and distributor, the hemp-derived cannabinoid sector is increasingly seeing price stability as it reaches a “mature market area.” While newer products continue to experience price erosion, “core molecules” that are the precursors or bases of most products have seen prices steady over the past year or so.
Although not official price assessments, Hemp Benchmarks earlier this year received reports of prices for hemp fiber and grain from an industry leader in South Dakota, which has boasted the second-highest amount of acreage planted with hemp in both 2022 and 2023. Unlike many other states, essentially all of the hemp grown in South Dakota is for grain or fiber.
According to Derrick Dohmann, Vice President of the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association, contract prices for hemp fiber in the state were $300 per ton this year, up from $210 – $230 per ton in 2022.
Contract prices for conventionally-grown hemp grain in South Dakota were $0.55 – $0.65 per pound, while those for organic hemp grain were $1.10 to $1.30 per pound.