Food and beverage companies have good reason to consider manufacturing CBD-infused products. In the following, we explore the cultural, market, and legislative developments that point to a bright future for CBD-infused products.

But we also describe why food and beverage manufacturers need to exercise caution—especially when choosing CBD ingredients partners. In addition, we share tips on what to look for when vetting potential partners.

1. CBD-infused foods and beverages align well with the growing wellness movement

The idea of “wellness” is now more than a trend—it’s a cultural movement. As McKinsey & Company puts it, “Wellness is here to stay as consumers across nations plan to increase their spending on personal health, appearance, fitness, and more.”

In fact, a recent international survey conducted by the company indicated that nearly 80% of consumers say wellness is important. But just what is wellness? As the Global Wellness Institute explains, wellness involves people pursuing “activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.”

That definition is helpful because it speaks to the fact that people not only want more options for enhancing their health; they’re actively seeking new health and wellness products to do that—such as those infused with CBD or other cannabinoids.

A third of Americans—and nearly half of millennials—have tried a product containing CBD 

A comparison of two polls from the website Morning Consult, one from 2019 and the other from 2022, shows a cross-generational increase in the number of people who have tried a CBD-infused product, with the largest usage uptick in millennials. See the graphic below.

Respondents who have tried a product with CBD in it

Moreover, as the following graphic shows, a significant number of respondents to that 2022 survey indicated interest in trying food and beverage products containing CBD.

Interest in trying food and beverage products containing CBD

2. Indicators of financial promise and legislative momentum are encouraging

Interest in products is obviously a good sign. But what about the actual market dynamics—and financial potential—when it comes to adding CBD to food and beverage product lines?

The cannabinoid-focused research firm Brightfield Group estimates retail sales for the US hemp-derived CBD market will reach $5 billion in 2022. But where sales go from there, as the report CBD: FDA Impact & the Path Forward explains, will “be heavily dependent on FDA regulation.” (See the graphic below.)

FDA Impact & the Path Forward

In an interview with Food Industry Executive, Brightfield Group senior insights analyst Matt Zehner said, “There is significant opportunity for growth across all CBD-infused food and beverage categories.” But he adds that they’re being constrained for the moment “by a lack of FDA guidance allowing for CBD to be sold as a food additive and dietary supplement.”

Importantly, however, Zehner said that with “regulatory clarity,” CBD-infused foods and beverages are positioned for growth “that significantly outpaces the overall market,” with forecasted number like these for 2022–2027:

  • Non-gummy, CBD-infused food estimated at a 30% compound annual growth rate
  • CBD-infused beverages estimated at a 28% compound annual growth rate 

A note on the positive legislative momentum for CBD

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill) marked a huge step forward for the future of CBD because the act exempted hemp and hemp-derived substances from the list of Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.

Yet regulatory ambiguity remains. The encouraging news here is that further legislation is being actively pursued. For example, the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act could be a game changer.

Should this bipartisan effort become law, it will, according to the official news release, “ensure hemp-derived CBD products are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) like other legal products used in dietary supplements, foods and beverages—an action that is essential to protecting consumer safety and treating hemp producers fairly.”

So what should food and beverage manufacturers do in the meantime? Brightfield Group’s Matt Zehner said to be prepared. “[H]aving high testing standards and ensuring that products are created with high-quality ingredients and hemp that is free of any potentially harmful substances will be important to receive placement in major retailers,” he said.

3. Hit pause if you’re not partnering with a certified supplier

Once that aforementioned regulatory clarity is established at the federal level, major retailers will likely be clamoring to carry CBD-infused foods and beverages.

However, they’re not going to carry just any products.

These retailers require specific food safety certifications and complete supply chain transparency before allowing products on their shelves. That’s why manufacturers who want to position themselves for significant growth and long-term viability need to partner with certified suppliers now.

If you’re not doing that, you should hit pause and reconsider the vetting process for your suppliers.

How to identify the best CBD ingredients partners

To identify qualified ingredients partners, look for signs of transparency in their business practices. More specifically, confirm that they hold the kind of certifications that indicate they’ve undergone multiple third-party audits.

For example, Palmate is certified with the Brand Reputation through Compliance Global Standard (BRCGS). As a BRCGS-certified company, we’re one of just a few CBD/cannabinoid ingredient companies in the U.S. with a certification recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)—and the only one in the state of Florida.

Most major retailers require products to meet GFSI standards, and we understand that CBD and other cannabinoid-infused products will be no different. Learn more about Palmate’s multiple certifications here.

Wondering how Palmate can provide cannabinoid ingredients that unleash the full potential of your products?