Royal Supply Knowledge Base

A Cannabis Packaging Year in Review: 5 Trends

Jan 12, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by Robert Warren

2020 was ... weird

There's no other way to put it, 2020 was a bust for hospitality, restaurants and gyms, yet a boom for the cannabis industry


TL;DR: This year brought a series of big wins for the cannabis industry, from de-bulking packaging, cartridges returning to the fore, new domestic providers in the market place and 5 new states coming online. 


Let's do the time warp again

Looking back on 2020, it all started out so reasonably. 

We ate together, hugged strangers, and had never heard of, let alone used the phrase 'social distancing', in our daily lives.

As the virus careened across the United States, every individual was touched, either by direct sickness or loss, or by the secondary and tertiary effects of industries adapting to and attempting to find a 'new normal'. 

The Cannabis Industry is no different, and fortunately for our purposes, demand has grown consistently, with record sales in many geographies. 

Let's look back on the 5 major trends in Cannabis Packaging for 2020.

Trend 1: Drop the BUlk


Brands and growers love .3g pre rolls

Commonly referred to as a 'dog walker', because of the time it typically takes to smoke one, these smaller custom pre-rolls, often sold in multi-packs, have become the new favorite of the quarantine bound populace.

Historically brands bought 1g (or larger) custom pre-roll cones for assembly in a glass or plastic child resistant tube. This setup allowed a LOT of packaging real estate for custom branding and in-store brand awareness. The margins were excellent, they were relatively easy to produce, and they added product depth to your catalog.

Consumers loved the larger pre-rolls to taste test new strains, and especially for sharing in a social setting. (Who doesn't want to be the legendary guy or gal who generously smokes up half the party?)

The era of Covid-19 quarantine and social distancing has birthed the dog walker as a viable way to explore new strains, utilizing a ton of custom packaging space (hooray brands), and avoid turning the consumer into a vegetable after taking Fido out. 

Trend 2: Cartridges are back

'Vapegate' was the drama on everyone's lips in 2019. 

Those outside of the cannabis industry only saw the lawless Wild West in their Sunday morning news broadcasts, and those within got a lot more conscious about who they bought or consumed oil from.

Fear was high, sales were way down on all oil products, and the government seemed poised to make an unhappy entrance into vaporizer regulation. 

As the dust began to settle and the investigations proved out what everyone already knew (i.e. unregulated brands operating in the illicit market were cutting product with Vitamin E Acetate), consumers migrated back to the trusted brands and dispensaries in droves. 

The difference between 2019 and 2020 is that more high quality vape providers are entering the ecosystem, often providing the same quality at much more competitive prices.

Look for prices on cartridges, customizations, and secondary packaging (i.e. cartridge slide boxes, blister packs) to drop as brands realize they have options.


🦁🦁 Return of the King 🦁🦁

Trend 3: Fancy new Local providers


With an ever expanding market in the US (Hello to the 5 new legal states!) there is greater opportunity to find and shop 'American Made' in cannabis packaging. 

And as an extra bonus, many of these upstart companies offer incredible technological advances without the supply headaches of imported competition.

Calyx_Concentrate_White_Exploded_Straight Angle

meet calyx

One of our favorite examples is packaging company Calyx. You'll recognize their four sided pop top containers and innovative, stackable tray system immediately.

They're an East Coast based company, proving the entire country is now in the Cannabis game; they source their glass from Germany (can you say quality?) and their plastics domestically. This gives them a marked advantage in the world of unclean imports and shifting quality standards. 

Their concentrate containers are even patented with an injected airtight seal in the lid and FEP liner for high quality product storage. 

Trend 4: Bio-Plastics


Yes, this is a trend for 2020. While you may be staring at us agape, saying "Really?", let us remind you that while you may want to purchase only biodegradable materials for your packaging, you are very likely not buying biodegradable packaging because it's so damn expensive.

(And, honestly, it's often pretty ugly)

But, we remind you dear reader, that the growth of bioplastics packaging companies is an extremely positive long term indicator for the industry.


It may very well be 2-5 years before you switch all of your SKUs to bioplastic and hemp based packaging, however, the fact that the cannabis industry gets to lead the way in these technological developments means two things.

1. Cannabis and Hemp are officially drawing in individuals from outside of the growing and branding side of the industry, attracting biologists, engineers, materials scientists, and an array of other professional tracts. 

2. We have the opportunity to influence the entire Consumer Packaged Goods Industry and lay the groundwork for clean plastic production via locally produced hemp plastics. (Read that twice because it's a huge deal, think every Coke bottle made out of hemp.)

Trend 5: BIg Barrier bags


We ended 2020 as the official era of Flower Power.

Production has ramped to new highs (pun intended) and consumers are beginning to understand and value the high quality flower you're producing.

For upstart brands, the common trend is to put a trimmed eighth into a 3oz glass jar with a full wrap. It's clean, has great shelf appeal, and stores product well. Where glass jars don't excel is in price

They're great for a taste for the mid, mid-high market, but the last thing you want to be doing is pushing volume with 10,000, 3oz glass jars to your 15 dispensaries (unless you have delivery guys with massive biceps who you salary).

Shipping will eat you alive.

Enter the Child Resistant Barrier Bag. 

For those who know your brand, you'll keep all of the shelf appeal you demand, while massively reducing your packaging costs. What's better is that innovations in the Child Resistant bag space have made heavier (thickness) bags and unique closures, which give you a head above your competitors with the same old patterns and locks. 


Summary: What's next?


While 2020 was a unique year, what's most valuable is remembering that we're moving forward, not back. It's time for us to take the time to really innovate in these strange times and come out stronger than ever before with our businesses, brands and packaging. 

What can you do to improve your customer experience?

To create a better purchasing and supply line?

To sustain in a space of ever growing competition?

It's up to all of us to decide how 2021 will go, and we'll be right there with you at Royal Supply.

Tags: Packaging

Robert Warren

Written by Robert Warren