Specialty Food Magazine

Winter 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Eder recently moderated a symposium for retail buying plat- form ECRM on the topic of hemp-derived CBD products. He is also a cannabis entrepreneur who is developing a monthly subscrip- tion box called Leafed, which he describes as a "multisensory experi- ence curated around a specific strain of the very best cannabis that's available in a specific state." He says the edibles category has been strong in the adult-use (THC) cannabis market and has potential in hemp-based CBD products as well. In marijuana dispensaries, 22 percent of the vol- ume has been in edibles, says Eder, citing data from research firm BDS Analytics. According to the Hemp Business Journal, sales for the U.S. hemp industry rose 16 percent to $820 million in 2017, including $190 million for hemp-derived CBD products, $181 million for personal care products, and $137 million for hemp food products, led by the snack food category. Hemp food products include hemp hearts, which are the nutrient-rich seeds of the hemp plant and have been widely available in natural food stores for years. A new report from consulting firm A.T. Kearney found strong consumer interest in non-psychoactive, cannabis-derived products, especially edibles. More than half of consumers sur- veyed (55 percent) in the U.S. and Canada said they would be interested in trying infused items such as chocolates, candies, and other packaged foods, and nearly a third—32 percent—said they would be interested in infused non-alcoholic beverages. Strong Sales at Alfalfa's Alfalfa's, a natural foods retailer in Boulder, Colo., has been mer- chandising CBD products for the past three years, says Betty Bailey, wellness manager for the two-store operator. "It's been really good for us," she says. "It's definitely one of the leading categories for us in terms of sales." Alfalfa's has been focused on offering full-spectrum liquid extracts (which contain all the cannabinoids in industrial hemp plants), she says, noting that most manufacturers have shifted away from the CBD-only label on hemp-infused items. The retailer also carries a range of infused topical products, including balms, salves, and creams, as well as such infused edibles as caramels, chocolates, coconut snacks, honey, and coffee. The items are touted as having a range of health benefits, but customers are often interested in addressing the discomfort caused by inf lam- mation, Bailey says. WINTER 2019 85 HEMP GROWS IN A LEGAL GRAY AREA D aniel Shortt, a Seattle-based attorney with law firm Harris Bricken who works extensively with entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry, says that specialty food retailers who offer CBD or hemp- infused products need to be sure that the suppliers they are buying from are sourcing their products from industrial hemp. However, some confusion still exists around the legal definition of industrial hemp, he says. He also notes that some federal authorities issued a statement of principle in 2016 that the 2014 Farm Bill—which legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp—did not allow the commercial sale of industrial hemp products, nor did it allow the interstate transfer of industrial hemp. However, Congress has prohibited the enforcement of that interpretation, Shortt explains. "Businesses are creating these CBD products from industrial hemp, and for a buyer of specialty foods who's looking into CBD, it's important that that buyer is assured that the product is, in fact, derived from industrial hemp and has documents and evidence to support that," says Shortt. The 2018 Farm Bill is expected to include the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which would remove hemp as a controlled substance, formally allow CBD to be sold legally in all 50 states and, observers say, open up the industry to robust market development.

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