February cannabis sales tepid as inventory stockpile grows: Health Canada

Sales of cannabis products in February fell by nearly nine per cent from the previous month, due to fewer days, as average daily sales stayed relatively flat, according to the latest statistics from Health Canada.

The government agency’s latest sales and inventory figures also show that the inventory of finished cannabis continues to pile up at both licensed producers and government retailers and distributors.

Health Canada says sales of dried pot in February amounted to 6,671 kilograms, 8.8 per cent less than the 7,313 kilograms sold in January.

“This is largely due to fewer days in February, and average daily sales of dried cannabis in February increased by one per cent” to 238 kilograms from 236 kilograms, Health Canada said in its report.

Cannabis oil sales amounted to 7,244 litres, down 8.5 per cent from 7,921 litres in January, but average daily sales were up by 1.3 per cent to 259 litres from 256 litres.

Ottawa’s latest figures come six months after Canada legalized pot for recreational use on Oct. 17, making it the first major nation in the world to do so.

Legalization day was met with high consumer demand, and many provincial, territorial and private retailers continue to face a supply crunch. As a result, Quebec’s cannabis corporation continues to shut its stores on Mondays and Tuesdays, for example, and the Ontario government has capped the initial batch of private retail stores at 25.

Meanwhile, some licensed producers are grappling with supply and logistics issues. Earlier this week, Aphria Inc. said it sold fewer kilograms of cannabis in its latest quarter ended Feb. 28, compared to the previous quarter, as it faced supply shortages and packaging and distribution challenges.

Health Canada’s latest data indicates that the amount of finished inventory — which is packaged, labelled and ready for sale — and unfinished inventory continued to pile up in February as the industry prepares for the rollout of edibles and topical products in the coming months.

Finished dried cannabis products at licensed producers rose by more than 19 per cent to 12,110 kilograms in February from 10,138 kilograms in January. The amount of finished dried pot in provincial distributors and retailers’ inventory increased in February as well, to 11,629 kilograms from 10,023 kilograms.

Finished oil inventory held by cannabis companies also grew to 37,526 litres, up 14.1 per cent from January, while distributors’ and retailers’ inventory rose by 9.3 per cent to 21,891 litres in February.

Meanwhile, unfinished inventory stockpiles continued to swell.

The amount of unfinished dried cannabis held by licensed producers increased to 120,731 kilograms, up 4.1 per cent from January. Unfinished oil in inventory grew 36,810 kilograms in February, up 19.2 per cent from the previous month.

Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press