It all began with oil, brought to you in the herbal market’s traditional tincture bottle.
Retailers looking to differentiate their product set on store shelves have come around to the idea that different ways of getting CBD is a solid way forward to entice consumer purchases.
Hemp CBD today has broadened and diversified its product formats to mirror successful product launches that have worked in other dietary supplements—hello, gummies. (Curiously, what is not found too often is the supplements mainstay of tablets and capsules.) But product developers and marketers have also developed product formats with what has worked in the medical and recreational marijuana markets—hello, candies.
Because the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate topicals like it would ingestible supplements, the mainstream mass market has embraced creams, lotions, salves and balms.
Some of the early successful brands are ones that were already up and running in the regulated marijuana market, and then merely swapped out THC-heavy marijuana for THC-light hemp.
“We got our start and have a leading position in the regulated THC market in the topicals space,” said Adam Grossman, founder and CEO of Papa & Barkley. “I wouldn’t say we’re dominant on the CBD side, though we do well CBD.”
If you think delivery formats have jumped the shark just because you can get CBD in your ice cream, coffee and carbonated drinks, think again.
“There’s a slew of products that have not been explored,” said Katie Devoe, co-founder and principal of bulk manufacturer CBD Nationwide, and the finished product brands Sacred Biology and Taste Paradise. “Lozenges, caramels, lollipops.”
The market has also not yet seen much of chewable tablets or mints, she said.
This is it: Sophisticated formulations and increased bioavailability
Products are starting to get more sophisticated in their formulations, following the likes of pioneering brand HempFusion by supercharging multi-herb botanical formulations with hemp CBD.
Companies are using essential oils or adding turmeric or arnica to differentiate products.
The latest in product innovation and formulation is all about bioavailability—using supplement tech to bump absorption, to get more from less.
Sublinguals—under the tongue—are de rigeur in the tincture set (even though the FDA considers it a drug-delivery route and not legal for supplements). The glands under the tongue deliver nutritional bioactives directly into the bloodstream, without having to get degraded by the digestive system. But liposomal sublinguals create smaller molecular sizes so the body can have an easier time accessing and assimilating the nutritional bull’s-eyes.
“You can put whatever in a lozenge, lollipop or topical, but what’s in the formula to enhance delivery and effect is where we’re at,” said Devin Alvarez, founder and CEO of Straight Hemp. “We add essential oil fractions from other plants to enhance our topicals’ effects. We use ginger, for example, in our topical product to enhance the penetrating power of these plants to enhance the entourage effect on a biomolecular level to increase horsepower.”
This is all good news to consumers and retailers, because coupled with the declining price of hemp from farmers, being able to use less CBD in products because of other functional ingredients will also help drive prices lower.
A discussion on hemp CBD delivery formats, including bioavailability-enhancing innovations, will be part of the Natural Products Hemp and CBD Summit, held at Natural Products Expo West, in Anaheim, California, on March 3 at the Sheraton hotel. For the complete list of the day’s agenda, visit here.