“This would generate an influx of innovation and new entrants into the space,” says Nielsen. “A key with mainstream consumer package goods manufacturers entering the space is also that they have pre-existing distribution systems that can be leveraged.”
Nielsen notes BDSA market forecasts for CBD already assume FDA regulation in 2021, with retailers beginning to open distribution channels throughout 2021 to 2022.
“Edible products are a very accessible and familiar form to consumers, so it is an opportunity for new consumers to enter into the cannabis space—be it regulated cannabis or hemp CBD,” says Nielsen.
“In general, keep in mind that consumers seek functional benefits from many different food categories,” says Nielsen. “Beverages is a great example of a format that has functional benefits—coffee or energy drinks, tea to relax, wine to unwind, sports drink to recover, etc.” As such, she notes, it isn’t surprising to consider cannabinoids as yet another ingredient option to provide functionality.
This is where established food and beverage brands, with masses of existing loyal consumers, can step in with new, CBD-infused lines to drive incremental bottom-line growth. “We expect to see continued brand development and sophistication of marketing and product development,” says Nielsen.
One of the challenges that foods and beverages infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) face is delayed onset of the relaxing effects. However, ingredient manufacturers have already begun devising solutions that can significantly reduce onset time. “Technology will likely play a role coming into 2021 as more organizations explore innovation options for faster-onset products,” says Nielsen.