- Convenience retailer Yesway is bringing Plift, a hemp-infused canned beverage, to more than 325 Yesway and Allsup’s c-stores across its network, according to a Wednesday announcement.
- The drink will debut at locations in multiple states, including Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, according to the announcement. Since Plift is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive component of marijuana — it can be sold in 37 states, according to the announcement.
- This continues Yesway’s increased focus on selling hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products this year. In March, the retailer announced plans to include a CBD store-within-a-store concept called Feel Good Shop Plus that offers drinks, snack foods and vaping products sold on consignment.
Yesway entered the cannabis category back in late 2019 by debuting CBD-infused bottled water at select stores in Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. About a year later, the retailer launched a variety of CBD-infused recovery drinks and sparkling water options. In early 2021, it expanded its range by bringing in more CBD-infused water and four flavors of gummies to 365 locations across its network.
Debuting another CBD product on its shelves, in combination with its recent store-within-a-store project, signals that Yesway is betting on the category to succeed moving forward.
“It was ... intuitive to include such a quality product from a fast-growing industry in our array of food and beverage offerings,” Derek Gaskins, chief marketing officer for Yesway, said of Plift in Wednesday’s announcement.
The CBD category has had a bumpy past few years. When Congress removed hemp from the Schedule I controlled substances list in 2018, the category exploded in c-stores, with retailers beginning to offer it in beverage, gummy, lotion and other forms. By the end of 2019, c-stores had the largest market share of CBD dollars among mainstream retail stores at nearly $71 million in CBD sales during the year, according to data from IRI and BDS Analytics.
But as c-stores shifted their focus to safety, supply-chain management and labor issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, CBD took a back seat. From April 2020 through 2021 and into last year, the number of U.S. retail stores receiving CBD shipments steadily declined, according to data from database management firm Management Science Associates (MSA). In early 2022, those shipments reached their lowest point since before CBD took off in retail.
Fort Worth, Texas-based Yesway operates about 438 Yesway and Allsup’s locations in rural and suburban parts of Texas, New Mexico, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Nebraska