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CBD is the fastest growing category the natural products sector has ever known. But as regulators act to tame its wilder fringes, a new phase of the CBD industry is being ushered in, Jim Manson reports

Try Googling CBD. You’ll get something like 452 million results (by way of comparison, Game of Thrones comes in at 257 million). Even when you refine your search to ‘CBD health products’ Google will still deliver an astonishing 159 million results. Meanwhile, Amazon UK currently lists over 10,000 CBD-containing products. That’s how big CBD is.

In our own industry, experienced commentators on both sides of the Atlantic agree that CBD is the fastest growing natural health category we have ever seen.

This unprecedented level of interest is being fuelled in part by a growing, if still limited, body of research showing that CBD helps address a range of important health issues, including anxiety, stress, insomnia, chronic pain and inflammation. 

At exactly the same time, medical understanding of the crucial role that the body’s endocannabinoid system plays in regulating our overall health is expanding apace. But the biggest market driver is the enormous quantity of anecdotal evidence and user testimonials showing how CBD is helping millions of people address a far wider range of health and lifestyle issues.

Consumer-driven 
“One the factors that makes the CBD sector very different is that it is a purely consumer-driven market,” explains Carlo Buckley, managing director of CBDfx Europe. “I have been in
the natural products sector since 2009 and I have not seen any category of products that has behaved like this – that is so driven by consumer demand.” 

All of this has created a highly fertile environment for product innovation and entrepreneurialism. Some of the biggest names in CBD globally were start-ups themselves just a handful of years ago, many with little or no previous experience in the natural health sector. 

In the last few years, thousands of CBD-containing products have come to market. There are CBD oils, tinctures, capsules, gummies, vapes, water, beer, chocolate, chewing gum, and CBD lotions, creams and topicals. In fact, if you can put CBD in it, you should probably assume someone already has (CBD-infused pillowcases or lube anyone?). 

“One of the factors that makes the CBD market very different is that it is a purely consumer-driven market”

Not surprisingly this translates into some very healthy sales growth. A policy report by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) from 2019 estimates the value of the UK CBD market to be worth approximately £300 million per year and suggests there are about 1.3 million CBD users. If the current growth trajectory continues, says CMC, the UK CBD market will be worth £1 billion by 2025 – that’s equivalent to the entire UK herbal supplement market in 2016.

Rules and regulations
All of this has not gone unnoticed by regulators. The CBD-containing products freely on sale in health stores, supermarkets, cafés and online in the UK are marketed as food supplements and regulated under food law.

Last year, in a move met with dismay by large parts of the CBD industry, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reclassified cannabidiol extracts as a novel food, meaning that products require pre-market authorization before going on sale in the EU. Since the classification is legally non-binding, individual EU states can decide how, or whether, to enforce novel foods rules. 

In February this year, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced that the UK would enforce the rules, setting a 31 March 2021 deadline, by which time all CBD products currently on
the market (that is, prior to 13 February 2020) would need to have a validated novel food authorization application to remain on the market. Products that failed to meet the requirement would be ‘taken off the shelves’, the Agency’s chief executive, Emily Miles, warned. 

Parts of the UK CBD industry have welcomed the FSA’s decision, saying that regulation is needed to protect both consumers and responsible brand owners. Others in the sector see it as part of a ploy to nudge CBD towards medicines-style regulation that only large pharma companies can afford to operate to.

Right place, wrong reasons 
But even those industry associations that continue to reject CBD’s designation as a novel food acknowledge that this clarification by the FSA at least offers a compliance pathway for manufactures and brands. As one brand owner told NPN: “We’re getting to the right place, even if for the wrong reasons.” 

Part of getting to the ‘right place’ also involves strengthening industry standards around product testing, labelling and manufacturing. Last year the CMC commissioned blind testing of 30 popular UK CBD brands, which it said ‘demonstrated that many CBD products on the market did not contain what was indicated on the label’. In independent testing of popular CBD products commissioned by the BBC’s Trust Me I’m A Doctor, similar discrepancies between actual and stated CBD levels were found, while some exceeded recommended THC dosages. 

Gaining and retaining trust in CBD products is key to the category’s longer term growth, says Tony Calamita, co-founder of Love Hemp. “We describe ourselves as ‘the brand that is proud to operate in a regulated way in an unregulated market’ to make an important point. CBD is a new product; consumers are still unsure about it – they’re sometimes nervous about its links to cannabis. So, gaining their trust is important. We spend a lot of money on analytical testing through different stages of the product life. We have our own in-house HPLC analysis machine, for example. We test and test again, and larger batches are sent for third-party analysis and spot checks.” 

We’re getting to the right place, even if for the wrong reasons

Calamita highlights labelling as a current problem area for the industry. “The key ingredient that adds value is CBD. So, you’re seeing some people being a bit tricky in how they describe concentrations in a product. There are no specific criteria the industry has to meet in relation to levels or amounts of CBD. Let’s say you’ve got a 10% CBD oil. What is the criteria by which you are allowed to state on pack that it contains 10% CBD? Is it between 9.8 and 10.2? Is it between 9.5 and 10.5? This is the type of criteria, the type of regulation that needs to be in place.”

Industry ‘placed on notice’
With a compliance deadline in place, the CBD sector has been ‘placed on notice’, in the words of the Association for Cannabinoid Industry (an affiliate organization of the CMC). The Alliance for Natural Health, meanwhile, has described the FSA’s decision to enforce novel food rules as placing a ‘ticking bomb’ under the CBD products sector, and one that would ‘inevitably benefit the bigger companies with greater resources, risking a disproportionate impact on smaller companies that have traditionally been the pioneers in the natural products sector’.

Many CBD industry insiders now expect a significant shake-out in the sector as all parts of the supply chain – manufacturers, retailers, brand owners and contract manufacturers – are required to demonstrate that products are legal and compliant. The CBD ‘gold rush’, as it has been frequently described, is over. A new phase of the industry is being ushered in.

CBD regulation – what happens next?
In its February announcement, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) set a dead-line of 31 March 2021 by which time all CBD products currently on the UK market would have to have submitted a ‘valid’ novel foods application.

All businesses along the supply chain – including manufacturers, brand owners, retailers and con-tract manufacturers – are each responsible for making sure their products are legal and compliant with the requirements before they market them. 

All applications must include a sufficiently comprehensive scientific dossier  – including laboratory analysis, safety and toxicological data, full information on manufacturing process and product composition and intended use – to allow the EFSA to make a full novel food product assessment. 

For anyone wondering, the FSA has let it be known that cursory two-page submissions ‘will never be validated’. 

A question of size
Some larger players are by now likely to be progressing applications, and the regulators will be keen to get a number of these over the line to demonstrate that the system is working. 

But the vast majority of CBD products on sale in the UK are marketed by much smaller businesses. As one well-placed industry insider told NPN: “The reality is that many of these companies aren’t anywhere near the beginning of the process, and plenty don’t even understand the process.” 

Products not currently on the market will need to gain a full authorization. Here, companies could be looking at costs of up to £750,000, and a process lasting two to three years. It means that the definition of ‘on the market’ is of crucial business importance. 

There are questions too about the practicality of joint, or consolidated, novel food submissions, and how in reality novel food rules would be enforced on the ground. 

But there is arguably a more fundamental question. Is the FSA’s action on CBD proportionate to any risk that products may present to public? While it seems extremely unlikely that the FSA will willingly depart from its current course, it’s still possible that it may be subject to political or even legal challenges. Watch this space …

 

 

 

Adaptogen CBD – Using the power of ancient plants for the modern day

Wunder Workshop
www.wunderworkshop.com

We have combined five of nature’s most potent ingredients to create a powerful daily wellness ritual. This blissful blend of potent feel-good plants aims to soothe you to the core. These are drops for deep dreams and clearing away clouds of drizzle.
Mucuna pruriens, also known as “velvet bean”, an aphrodisiac and tension reliever, used in Ayurveda. We’ve also included our organic Superior Ashwagandha, another highly regarded Ayurvedic plant that acts as a potent adaptogen that may help balance our response to physical and emotional stress. The blend contains Wunder Workshop’s CBD and organic Turmeric extract. Plus black pepper to improve bioavailability, increasing this purposefully crafted blend’s potential.

 

Medosan CBD cream

World foods brand management ltd
Tel: 01782 366080
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.wfbm.co.uk

Medosan Cannabis cream combines CBD crystals with precious oils which penetrate deep in the skin. Great for applying to painful muscles and joints – as well as for soothing aching feet – this cream also has a wonderful rejuvenating effect on the skin. It supports the renewal of the epidermis, reduces wrinkles and acts as a moisturiser, making the skin smoother, younger-looking and more elastic. Made in Switzerland, ensuring the highest quality.

 

CBDfx Charcoal Face Mask 50mg CBD

NEwhere UK Limited
Tel: 0207 400 3321
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.cbdfx.co.uk

CBDfx was founded in 2014 on the belief that everyone should have access to the remarkable benefits of CBD and we use this as our compass to create the purest and most effective products on the planet. As a consequence, our products are trusted by many thousands of consumers and thousands of retail locations around the globe to be at the forefront of innovation within the category and provide the very best CBD products available.

Our award-winning Charcoal Face Masks have a 100% natural formulation to the very strictest ingredient standards globally and are manufactured in a GMP certified facility. Each mask contains 50mg of CBD from organic broad-spectrum hemp extract, activated charcoal, botanical extracts and essential oils like peppermint oil, tangerine extract and sweet orange peel extract. These beauties brighten and purify even the most radiant faces! To top it off, each bamboo sheet mask is fully biodegradable.

Not all “CBD” masks are equal and don’t be fooled by a face mask that purports to contain CBD when the ingredients state it contains Hemp Seed Oil. There is zero CBD in hemp seed oil. Furthermore, any CBD brand worth its salt should be able to demonstrate the quantity of the CBD with detailed certificates of analysis.

Here at CBDfx, every single product of ours is batch lab tested to verify cannabinoid potency and the absence of any nasties. Importantly our highly experienced laboratory has extremely low limits of detection for all cannabinoids, including THC meaning you can have full confidence in the results. Full certificates of analysis are available to download from QR codes on the back of our packs. We guarantee only the very best lab verified products.

 

The Leaf Life

Bravura Foods
Tel: 0203 086 8676
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.bravurafoods.com 

Welcome to The Leaf Life, A CBD infused lightly sparkling range of drinks. Available in slim line 250ml recyclable cans in Laidback Lemonade, Relaxing Raspberry and Mindful Mango with Passionfruit flavours. These natural drinks contain 15mg of full spectrum CBD and are free from artificial flavours, colours and refined sugars. We have sourced the most wholesome natural ingredients including the CBD to deliver a fantastic tasting lightly carbonated drink with a functional beneficial twist and all varieties are under 25 calories per can.

 

Body and Mind Botanicals CBD

Body and Mind Botanicals
Tel: 01234 988420
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.bodyandmindbotanicals.com

Body and Mind Botanicals was born out of the desire to produce high-quality CBD products and introduce people to all of its benefits, which may include relief from anxiety and low moods, as well as improving sleep. They are hands on with every stage of production from seed selection to producing tea for 500 stockists across the UK. As the only European company who harvest their unique strain of cannabis, the tea has a beautiful fresh flavour, packed full of CBD. It is currently available in loose leaf, individually bagged and peppermint flavour, grown on certified organic farms.  

 

Soothing and Therapeutic Skin Balms 

Hemptouch
E-mail: [email protected]
www.hemptouch.com

Built on a cutting-edge combination of the highest quality Cannabis Sativa ingredients and patented raw super-food extracts from Slovenia’s pristine flora, the Hemptouch collection works hard to deliver outstanding results on skin sensitivities and conditions such as hypersensitive eczema and blemish-prone skin. The award-winning Soothing and Therapeutic Skin Balms provide acute care for stressed skin and conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Hemptouch’s clean, certified organic and vegan skincare is dermatologically tested and is currently sold in Europe and Japan.

To find out more about Hemptouch and their award-winning products visit www.hemptouch.com or email [email protected]

 

 

CBDfx Apple Cider Vinegar & Vitamin B12 Gummies

NEwhere UK Limited
Tel: 0207 400 3321
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.cbdfx.co.uk

CBDfx was founded in 2014 on the belief that everyone should have access to the remarkable benefits of CBD and we use this as our compass to create the purest and most effective products on the planet. As a consequence, our products are trusted by many thousands of consumers and thousands of retail locations around the globe to be at the forefront of innovation within the category and provide the very best CBD supplements available.

As is now expected of us, we always strive to produce the best possible multifunctional CBD supplements available. Completely unique within the natural products market, these Vegan gummies are a convenient way to take two of the most popular supplements around today – CBD & Apple Cider Vinegar. Not only do they perform but they also taste great with a mild citrus flavour. Furthermore, all our gummies only use 100% natural and predominantly organic ingredients with no corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.

Each serving (2 gummies) contains 10mg of CBD from organically farmed broad-spectrum hemp extract, 1000mg of ACV and 94% of your Vitamin B12 RDA. Vitamin B12 contributes to normal energy yielding metabolism, normal functioning of the nervous system, normal psychological function, normal red blood cell formation, normal function of the immune system, and to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. It’s a winning combination for anyone looking to be at their very best!

Here at CBDfx, every single product of ours is batch lab tested to verify cannabinoid potency and the absence of any nasties. Importantly our highly experienced laboratory has extremely low limits of detection for all cannabinoids, including THC meaning you can have full confidence in the results. Full certificates of analysis are available to download from QR codes on the back of our packs. 

We guarantee only the very best!

 

Kanabia CBD+ Oil 

Kinetic Natural Products Distributor
Tel: 08450 725 825
www.kinetic4health.co.uk
E-mail: [email protected]

Kanabia CBD+ Oil is made with premium Golden Harvest™ Full-Spectrum Hemp, which features CBD, CBDV, CBG and THCV for a complete range of cannabinoids with 0% THC. Presented in a liquid tincture with high quality MCT oil for a purer taste, and cognitive and digestive health benefits. Available in three different strengths (250mg, 500mg, 1000mg) and also available infused with Supercritical C02 Turmeric Extract and Rosemary for more anti-inflammatory benefits. Kanabia was founded to bring healthy living to everyone through natural foods and supplements combined with our unique full spectrum cannabinoid complex to restore the mind and body’s natural balance.

 

 

Love Hemp Ltd
Tel: 0203 968 6643
E-mail: [email protected]
www.love-hemp.com

Love Hemp manufactures high quality, premium CBD products ranging from oils, edibles and cosmetics. Love Hemp’s Organic CBD Oils are available in 4 strengths ranging from 3%, 10%, 20% and 40% and flavours include natural, peppermint, orange and coconut. The CBD Oil contains a full spectrum of terpenes, flavonoids and phytonutrients and is gluten-free, THC- free and suitable for vegans. 

Recommended usage: Using the pipette, administer 6-12 drops of oil under the tongue and hold for 60 seconds before swallowing. 

All Love Hemp products are certified THC free; third party tested under strict laboratory conditions and have a guaranteed CBD concentration.

 

Medosan CBD lozenges

World foods brand management ltd
Tel: 01782 366080
E-mail:  [email protected]
www.wfbm.co.uk

Medosan CBD lozenges are a convenient and enjoyable way to benefit from CBD without the distinctive taste and ensuring an accurate dose.

Made in Switzerland, each sugar free lozenge contains an impressive 5mg of full spectrum cannabidiol oil which are simply placed under the tongue and allowed to gently melt. Taking CBD sublingually maximizes its benefits and prevents the stomach acid from reducing its potency.

Take 1 lozenge daily 

 

Pura Vida Organic CBD skincare

Pura Vida Organic d.o.o.
Tel: +385 1 202 8900
[email protected]
www.puravida-organic.com

Pura Vida – a saying from Costa Rica meaning ‘Pure life’.  It is a path you choose when you know what’s best for your body and mind. It is a philosophy we apply to our lives, the things we consume, and the organic skincare we create. To us, Pura Vida means providing you with the purest possible natural alternative to mainstream cosmetics, with minimal environmental impact. Our skincare is crafted with nutrient dense organic certified ingredients that can be used on the most sensitive of skins and by the most selective of health-conscious consumers. If you’re that person in the store sceptically flipping products around to inspect their ingredients hoping they are all organic and recognisable – that was us, and we’re here for you.

Why CBD?

CBD is a trendy ingredient at the moment, and for a good reason. CBD is well known for its ability to calm irritated, damaged, puffy, swollen and stressed skin. By supplementing a naturally occurring system within your body that regulates homeostasis (called the endocannabinoid system), CBD can help the body to achieve balance. This proves effective for many skin conditions, for example, many studies prove that by regulating the production of sebum you can prevent breakouts caused by an overproduction of sebum, and by regulating inflammation – combat signs of aging.

We produce CBD oils, CBD anti-aging serums, moisturisers, balms, elixirs, massage oils, body butter, shaving gels and many more to come. Due to Hemp being previously forbidden, the powers of CBD and full range of benefits are still being discovered, but for us the range of known results we experienced were good enough to change our careers, form a company, and show the world what CBD can do. It is time to explore this miraculous compound, and try premium CBD skincare like never before!

 

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About the Author

Jim Manson

Editor-in-chief
Jim Manson is Editor-In-Chief of Diversified Communication UK's natural and organic publishing portfolio. He’s written widely on environment and development issues for specialist magazines and national media, including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, Time Out and World Bank Urban Age.

Articles by Jim Manson
Jim Manson
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