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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category education One of the brands Alfalfa's carries is Weller, a locally based manufacturer of Coconut Bites with hemp extract. Weller describes the product as containing 5 milligrams of "full-spectrum hemp extract in every bite." The company's hemp-infused Coconut Bites come in original, dark chocolate, and caramel f lavors. The hemp-infused coffee Alfalfa's carries also is produced locally, by a company called Restorative Botanicals, which offers an organically grown Peruvian coffee product infused with a full- spectrum hemp oil extract from Colorado. "They're doing a really smart extraction method where they're actually infusing during the roasting process so the hemp is driven into the bean," says Bailey. "It's definitely one of the most effective techniques I've seen for a coffee." Alfalfa's also carries a locally produced honey that is infused with hemp, from Frangiosa Farms. The Colorado Hemp Honey comes in 12-ounce jars containing 1,000 milligrams of "full spec- trum hemp extract," and is available in three varieties: Raw Relief, Tangerine Tranquility, and Lemon Stress Less. "We focus primarily on local in general as a company and store, but also especially when it comes to hemp products, just because we have so many people doing it so well in their backyard," says Bailey. "Colorado's leading the way and has paved quite a solid path for the hemp industry." Focus on Quality Linda Gilbert, managing director of consumer insights, BDS Analytics, says that specialty food retailers need to pay close atten- tion to the quality of the infused products they may be bringing into their stores. "The first rule of thumb is to be loyal to the practices that have made you successful to-date," she says. "That means in most instances putting an emphasis on taste and putting an emphasis on that variety of experience that specialty foods bring to people." She says there are "a lot of challenges with infused edibles" because the compounds can sometimes be bitter or can impart a gritty texture. "You really need to do your homework, and make sure that you're delivering the quality of product that people have come to expect from your brand," she says. "Just because it has cannabis in it, or hemp in it, or CBD in it, doesn't mean that people are willing to have a chocolate bar that's gritty." Products need to focus on communicating the experience that the products will produce, rather than the actual science around it, Gilbert explains. "Is it going to give me energy or help me to sleep? Is it going to relax me or give me that extra edge I need to get through my power walk? It goes back to when we started fortifying foods," she says. "Consumers don't want to understand the science of calcium. They want to know that if I drink this, it's good for my bones." 86 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com CANNABIS BRINGS MARKETING CHALLENGES, BRANDING OPPORTUNITIES C hris Epp, who oversees marketing at Boulder, Colo.-based Alfalfa's, says marketing hemp- based products can be a challenge. Much of the retailer's marketing has been conducted in-store and through direct email outreach. "The hurdle we keep running into is that most of the larger media companies will not allow you to advertise for anything that says 'hemp' or 'CBD,'" says Epp. "You can't post on Facebook, you can't use Google Ad Words or any of the traditional or obvious methods to market these things." The reluctance on the part of large media companies to carry hemp or CBD advertising could reflect the fact that the legal status of these products has varied by state and has been in a state of flux. Consultant and cannabis entrepreneur Rob Eder, founder of Firpo Productions, says brand names are an important element of marketing in the cannabis market. "Brands really matter in this space, whether you are talking about cannabis or CBD specifically," he says, noting that several celebrities—including Jimmy Buffet, Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Whoopi Goldberg, Tommy Chong, and Melissa Etheridge—have jumped into the space. "There's a tribalism in this business," says Eder. "People are gravitating toward brands that resonate with them." Singer-songwriter Etheridge has been marketing a range of cannabis-infused products in California for several years through the Etheridge Farms label. Among the recent introductions is a cannabis-infused wine, available only through licensed dispensaries. (continued on p. 122)

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