By 2024 the cannabis beverage industry is estimated to reach $1.4 billion in the United States. With an estimate as high as this, we can see how the legalization of recreational marijuana use in 18 states (so far) has started to impact the food and beverage market.
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No doubt you have already seen a slew of CBD products in your local grocery and beauty establishments. CBD is the non-psychoactive, single compound of the hemp plant. THC is the mood-altering compound from the hemp plant's cousin, marijuana. Per the FDA: "It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement." - supposedly, the delay from the FDA is due to continued research as to what dietary and medical benefits CBD provides.
Regardless of the legalities, states that have made marijuana legal have allowed CBD and THC consumable products. Even non-legal states allow some CBD products if there are no detectable levels of THC. The legalities of the cannabis and food and beverage market are a bit confusing as of right now!
At the beginning of 2020, several companies were ready to launch CBD products, but the pandemic slowed the process to almost a halt. Companies like Bolthouse Farms and Ben & Jerry's were both held up for various reasons, including legal issues. Both brands expect to launch new CBD products soon.
With cannabis not being federally legal, Pabst Brewing Co. cannot hold a cannabis license, so they gave Pabst Labs, a two-year-old brewing company, branding rights to their 176-year-old beer brand at no fee. Pabst labs launched a cannabis seltzer in 2020 with positive results. The seltzer contains 5 milligrams of THC. Pabst Brewing Co. gets no profits from the sales, but their logo is proudly displayed on the can.
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The beverage market is where there has been and will be significant growth: CBD teas, powdered blends to add to water, hemp-infused coffees, and elixirs. Ocean Spray launched sparkling water out of its Lighthouse Innovation Incubator last year. Launched in Colorado only, Carry On is available in two CBD waters: Recover with Choline and Relax with L-Theanine. Both waters contain vitamins C and E, 20mg's CBD isolate and truly address the food and beverage market's colossal health and wellness trend.
As far as food products are faring in the cannabis world, of course, there are many edibles available in legal states. CBD-infused chocolate, cookies, brownies, butter, candy, and nutrition bars are showing up in legal states, and data shows 27% of Americans surveyed are interested in these types of products. Once the FDA moves forward with pending decisions, these items are an easy fit for large grocery store chains.
We are also starting to see chefs host "Cooking with marijuana" classes. There are chefs hosting cooking with marijuana classes, and also the Cannabis Training University provides a ‘Cooking With Cannabis’ certification.
To say that the legalization of marijuana will make an impact on consumer products is an understatement. CBD and THC are an easy add to already top trending beverages and foods, and because of the medical benefits researched, consumer's attitudes have changed towards the plant. According to a Gallup poll, 86% of those surveyed favor legalization because of the potential health benefits, not the high that you get. Also, some research has pointed to consumers dropping their alcohol and smoking vices and replacing them with CBD.
Look for more CBD food and drinks in your market soon and maybe even a local restaurant!