Webinar Details the Industry Buzz About CBD-Infused Food and Beverages

By William Sumner, Hemp Content Manager, New Frontier Data

It is no secret that cannabinoids represent one of the fastest-growing subsectors of the hemp industry, with CBD-infused food and beverages driving demand. Be it a sports drink or infused granola bar, consumers are looking for new ways to integrate CBD to their lifestyles, and their appetites have spurred radical innovations.

In the second installment of New Frontier Data’s free cannabinoid webinar series, Benjamin Witte, founder and CEO of the Recess brand of CBD beverages, and Steve Groff, founder of the physician-focused industrial hemp processor Groff North America, joined New Frontier Data’s Chief Knowledge Officer John Kagia to discuss “Trends and Innovation in CBD-Infused Food and Beverages”. Much of the conversation centered around the challenges which a CBD brand faces in formulating a quality product. A fundamental issue is to create a consistent formula with a durably long shelf life while maximizing the bioavailability of the CBD.

According to Witte, as the science behind CBD formulation affords more consistency, brands will begin to focus on whatever added value that they may provide beyond CBD itself.

“The way to think about CBD is as a compound no more interesting than caffeine or electrolytes, just a commoditized functional ingredient that’s ultimately going to be added to many types of products,” Witte explained. “The value is in being able to determine the right application to utilize it and being able to build a brand on top of the ingredient.”

Drawing a comparison with both Starbucks coffee and Red Bull energy drinks (“CBD is the caffeine of the 21st century,” he asserted), Witte pointed out how those brands essentially offer products with the same active ingredient; the differences are how the companies brand themselves and what kind of promises they offer their consumers.

The future of the CBD market hinges on how U.S. authorities ultimately regulate the substance. While some industry observers bemoan the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s slow bureaucratic response to CBD, Groff held a more nuanced perspective.

“They are caught in a regulatory web — and I’m not here to defend the FDA — but clearly the leadership wants to find a way to approve it,” he commiserated. “Part of the challenge is that Epidiolex has been approved as a pharmaceutical drug, and the second thing is that there is just complete lack of medical literature about CBD. Unfortunately for the people who work at the FDA, that’s what they live by.”

Adding to the regulatory difficulty, Groff continued, is the COVID-19 pandemic, which both has sidelined research efforts and drawn away critical resources to address the global challenge. Click here to listen to Groff and Witte’s full conversation.

Part Three of New Frontier Data’s free cannabinoid webinar series will be held on July 22 to focus on “The Future of Minor Cannabinoids Beyond CBD” as discussed by Groff and Dr. Jonathan Vaught, CEO & Co-founder of Front Range Biosciences. Click here to register.