Interest in the role of the cannabis derivative cannabidiol (CBD) in the wellness market has continued to rise, despite some concerns over safety and ongoing regulatory issues over its use.  Its current growth spurt in new product activity started in 2018 and continued through 2019 and 2020 amid rising consumer awareness.

In particular, CBD’s potential as a disruptor was highlighted as one of Innova Market Insights’ Top Trends for 2020. It was billed, “A Star is Born,” and is based on growing consumer familiarity with CBD use in supplements, foods and beverages. Moreover, new products increasingly are moving toward the mainstream.

Studies show that CBD possesses an array of potential therapeutic benefits, including antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. It is one of more than 100 cannabinoids identified in marijuana and hemp and, in addition to its health benefits, and unlike the more widely recognized tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is not psychoactive.

More importantly, consumers are increasingly aware of CBD’s wellness potential and its more specific benefits. In 2019, surveyed consumers told Innova that they identified pain relief, reduction in anxiety/distress and increased relaxation as the top three benefits of cannabis/CBD ingredients.

Innova research also indicates the opportunity to target different audiences with particular health and wellness positionings. Perhaps not surprisingly, Baby Boomers are most interested in pain relief. Meanwhile, Generation Z consumers are interested in mood and energy benefits. Both groups also express interest in the potential of CBD to mitigate feelings of stress or anxiety.

Activity in CBD supplementation has been particularly apparent in the US, which accounted for more than 70% of global new product launches during the first 10 months of 2020.  This reflects a wide range of launches, mainly in supplements to date, but also increasingly in a whole range of food and drinks products led by soft drinks and confectionery. Overall, Innova Market Insights finds that hemp/CBD launches grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% from 2015 to 2019.

With the high levels of interest in supplements in the US in general, it is perhaps not surprising that they continue to dominate CBD launches. These supplements account for nearly three-quarters of CBD new products recorded by Innova Market Insights during the first 10 months of 2020.

Despite growing awareness of the different potential health benefits of CBD, general health and wellness positionings remain most popular for NPD. Of course, this limits potential controversy over more specific claims. That said, the next most popular claims connected with new CBD products are brain-mood health (second place), sleep (fighting insomnia), immune health and then energy or stamina.

For the record, CBD supplements come in a wide and increasing range of formats. During the first few months of 2020, US product launches included Nanocraft Sciences’ CBD Immune Boost Plus CBD soft gels; Joy Organics’ natural, vegan gummies (Strawberry Lemonade, Green Apple flavors); FOCL’s Premium Mint Flavor CBD drops; Elixinol’s Daily Balance Winter Mint flavor CBD tincture; and Nature’s Truth Broad Spectrum Natural Mint flavor CBD oil from the United Kingdom’s UKAZ Limited.


Bottom’s Up!

In the mainstream food and drinks market, soft drinks have seen the highest levels of new product activity (after supplements) and they account for 9% of US launches featuring CBD.  These were heavily focused in the flavored water subcategory, particularly sparkling waters, although there was also some interesting activity in carbonates and iced tea.

Activity in flavored sparkling waters with CBD tends to focus on a benefit of general health and wellbeing. Even so, there are a range of potential additional benefits such as relaxation, stress relief and improved cognition.

Overall market growth continues to attract more mainstream soft drinks companies. For example, last summer saw Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. (Lighthouse Incubator unit) test Colorado sales of CarryOn sparkling CBD water. Officials say CarryOn Elevate Grapefruit helps keep consumers calm but sharp, fueled but focused with 10mg of CBD and choline. CarryOn Descend Blueberry contains L-theanine and 20mg of CBD isolate to provide relaxation.

More interesting activity featured Water for Living LLC, Corona, Calif., and its CBD Living brand.

For the record, CBD Living already offered a range of CBD products, including its flagship unflavored CBD Living Water, first launched in 2014. The company focuses on proprietary, water-soluble nano technology for better CBD absorption. Last April, CBD Living launched a Sparkling Water line with flavors such as Apple Ginger, Strawberry Lavender, Orange Grapefruit and Peach Honey. Each offers 25mg of nano-CBD with vitamins and minerals for added health and immunity. Most recently, the company also introduced CBD Living CBD Energy Shot with CBD and caffeine.

Last year saw BLCND Naturals, Minneapolis, introduce three sparkling waters (terpene-infused CBD beverages) with 20mg of nano-CBD.  Chill, in a Berry-Açai flavor, looks to inspire serenity and manage anxiety; while Bliss (Pink Grapefruit) is intended to promote a positive attitude while naturally elevating energy levels and mental focus; and Balance (Blueberry Lemon) promotes overall health, wellness and mental clarity, while also helping to manage stress.

There also is some interesting activity in carbonated soft drinks fortified with CBD, such as those from Backyard Soda Co., Denver. It offers a range of all-natural small batch sodas with full spectrum CBD. Backyard Soda’s flavors include Lavender Lemon and Mango Jalapeno, alongside more standard Ginger Lemon and Root Beer.

Still more interesting launches involve ready-to-drink teas containing CBD, although at a lower level.  Iced tea, like sparkling water, has a naturally fairly healthy image, making it a suitable carrier for CBD and adding to its functional/wellness image.

In 2019, Elev8 Hemp LLC, Longwood, Fla., introduced CBD infused iced coffee in a can, followed by iced tea (Lemon). The RTD tea line then grew last year with Raspberry, Peach and Hibiscus Green varieties, all containing 10 mg of CBD with no calories or sugar. They all are marketed as premium functional beverages.

In mid-2020, Aviary Brands Inc., Chicago, entered the CBD market and extended its range of sparkling teas with Tempo Sparkling Matcha CBD with Raspberry & Lime. That soon was followed by a CBD Hibiscus Tea with Blackberry & Lemon and CBD Green Tea with Ginger & Turmeric. All contain 25mg of hemp-derived CBD.


Confections: Sweet & Sour

There also is interest and activity involving CBD and candies or confections. In particular, gummies tend to sit at the intersection of wellness supplements and candy and build on the success of products such as gummy vitamins.

As with chewable supplements, gummies offer a convenient, portable and snack-style format for on-the-go lifestyles. They also tend to offer a range of up-market flavors and promote a natural image. Sour varieties also are popular, reflecting interest in that type of flavor across the wider gummy market.

Gummy new product activity abounds. Just in the last six months, the US market has seen new entries including PLUS SLEEP gummies from PLUS Products, Walnut, Calif.; Good Mood CBD gummies from Elixinol LLC, Westminster, Colo.; Vegan PM (sleep) gummies from CBD Living; and new vegan, gluten CBD gummies from Nature’s Best CBD, Highlands Ranch, Colo.

In an interesting nod to the mainstream Canopy Growth Corporation, Smiths Falls, Ont., partnered with Martha Stewart and Marquee Brands to develop a Martha Stewart CBD Wellness Gummies Sampler. Each Martha Stewart CBD Gummies Sampler includes 60 gummies — each with 10mg CBD — featuring taste profiles found in Martha’s favorite holiday recipes. The flavors include: Black Currant, Black Raspberry, Blood Orange, Calamondin, Pink Grapefruit, Green Apple, Huckleberry, Kumquat, Meyer Lemon, Passion Fruit, Persian Lime, Quince, Red Raspberry, Rhubarb and Strawberry.

Among other new chocolate offerings are ReCreate chocolates, which debuted last summer from Stanley Brothers Holdings USA, the Boulder, Colo., parent to Charlotte’s Web. Officials say ReCreate items are “crafted to harmonize optimal ratios of full-spectrum CBD, THC and functional botanicals and balanced to provide effective support for the endocannabinoid system.” Four chocolate varieties are Focus, Relax, Relief, and Sleep.

Also active last summer was Kefla Organics, Superior, Colo., which introduced seven cacao chocolate bars infused with organic, full-spectrum hemp extract. Officials say Kefla bars (each containing 25mg CBD) can be eaten as is or mixed into milk. Varieties include Dark Chocolate, Dark and Salty, Mint Chocolate, Acai Chocolate, Golden Turmeric, Matcha Mint and Caffé Mocha.

Last summer also found Essential Candy, Wellington, Fla., introducing two hard candy lines: Signature Blends with better-for-you functional ingredients; and Signature Plus CBD Blends. Essential Candy’s CBD line of hard candies feature 10mg of CBD Isolate per piece, include Signature Plus CBD with Mandarin ($19), Signature Plus CBD with Peppermint ($19), and Signature Plus CBD with Lemon and Ginger ($19). The CBD candies are available in 1.6oz. bags each containing 12–13 individually wrapped hard candies.


Heating Up

Hot drinks represent the next active category involving CBD new product launches, although numbers remain relatively limited. While all the US CBD launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2019 focused on tea, there was a wider range of activity in 2020, with interest moving into coffee and even cocoa mixes.

Serenity Mountain Foods LLC, Warrenville, Ill., introduced three CBD Hot Cocoa Mixes: Classic Blend, Madagascar Vanilla, and Spicy Aztec.  Each box contains five individual serving pouches with 40 mg CBD per serving. Meanwhile, Kefla Organics also was active here as well. It introduced a line of CBD-infused drink mixes including Chai Latte, Golden Latte and Hot Cocoa. The Hot Cocoa mix includes Fairtrade-certified cacao, coconut sugar, coconut milk powder, and organic hemp CBD. Consumers can add hot water, milk, or go mocha by adding to organic coffee. One serving makes an 8oz drink with 25 mg CBD.

Among others focusing on tea and coffee were CBD product company Kadenwood LLC, Newport Beach, Calif.; and CBD Living.

For starters Kadenwood partnered with Purity Organic to develop Purity Organic CBD Hot Teas. Containing 15mg of CBD per tea bag, Purity Organic CBD Hot Teas are free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. They  come four herbal benefit-focused flavors including English Breakfast, SLEEP Chamomile, REVIVE Earl Grey and FOCUS Green Tea & Lemon.

CBD Living added instant coffees to its beverage products line. Available in three flavors—Original, Golden Milk and Matcha—CBD Living Instant Coffee contains 250mg of broad-spectrum U.S.-grown organic hemp per 2.5oz container (approximately 7mg of CBD per serving). Each flavor contains 100% Colombian Arabica coffee and is vegan, gluten-free, THC-free and non-GMO.

Although the US’ overall regulatory approach to legal cannabis products remains somewhat confusing, it’s clear that there’s strong activity involving new products with cannabis ingredients. This is bolstered by advancing cannabinoid science and rising consumer familiarity.