John Wallace discusses regulations in the CBD market and the move towards CBD-infused drinks, food supplements and additives.
You may have noticed that cannabidiol (CBD) suddenly seems to be available almost everywhere, and marketed as a variety of products including drugs, food, dietary supplements, cosmetics and even pet food.
As Managing Director of Mile High Labs’ European operation, I have seen this industry grow first-hand. It’s exciting to see the level of business development in the field and the plethora of new products entering the market.
Essentially, as an ingredients company, we want to ensure our ingredients are of the highest quality possible, the basic criteria for any manufacturer in sourcing good suppliers. Without talking in too commercially overt a manner, it’s clear that every supplier worth their salt needs to be able to ensure that customers are assured on quality, purity, security of supply, accurate labelling, pricing and adherence to regulatory standards.
Not every player in the market is doing so, and that’s why manufacturers who use products like ours pay close attention to the practices and ethos of their suppliers, particularly in a situation where regulation is catching up with demand.
Therefore, from an industry reputation and consumer safety point of view, I do have concerns. These focus primarily on the growth of the market without a correspondingly robust regulatory framework, adequate labelling and an agreed best practice for manufacture across the industry.
Things are improving, however, and we welcome the launch of the Association of Cannabinoid Industry’s Charter, which requires companies to sign up to much more stringent levels of regulation than already exist. We have supported their calls for better regulation, higher standards of manufacturing and laboratory testing, and more stringent rules on labelling, so that people are assured that they are buying what they think they’re buying.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) both recognise the significant public interest in cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularly CBD. According to a statement released by Brightfield Group, the CBD market is projected to reach $22 billion by 2022, and hemp cultivation in the US tripled in 2018 with the passage of the Farm Bill, which changed the law in relation to the consumption of CBD across the United States.
Market research commissioned by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis in London estimates that the CBD market is currently one of the fastest-growing wellbeing product categories in the UK. At this current rate, by 2025, it will be worth almost £1 billion per annum, equivalent in size to the current entire UK herbal supplement market.
Outside of the United States, our European operation has enjoyed a period of rapid growth since we opened our European Headquarters in Belfast earlier this year. From a standing start in March, the company has now employed 23 staff, with 15 based at the Belfast office, and 8 in London.
Trends in food and drink
Even though the CBD market is very new, there are already some perceivable trends, in particular a move towards CBD-infused drinks, food supplements and additives.
There are dozens of new food and beverage products on the market, with specialist cafés springing up serving CBD dishes and even the launch of a CBD-infused spring water. There are CBD-imbued truffles and croissants, CBD-soaked granola energy bars, peanuts, dessert slices with a CBD coconut biscuit base, hemp caramel and chocolate ganache – the list goes on.
Many industry observers now see CBD as a desirable ingredient to add new life to a current product or an opportunity to launch an entirely new product category, hence the growth of the CBD beverage market.
Earlier this year, Mile High announced the launch of CBD Water Soluble Liquids. These are made by dissolving CBD isolate or distillate into a colourless, flavourless, naturally-derived oil and then creating nanoscopic droplets of that oil with a high-pressure emulsifier. The result is a high-quality, stable additive with virtually no effect on colour, taste or mouthfeel.
Mile High Labs’ product developers spent months on research and development, and even invested in advanced emulsification technology to create the desired end product.
There are exciting times ahead in the food and beverage industry as CBD infused products increasingly become a normal part of the market. Some trends will take root, others will wither on the vine, but it is the suppliers who gain and retain the trust of their customers who will flourish. Trust in the product, the manufacturing process, security of supply and the labelling are basic elements in the relationship between supplier and customer.