Supplements and beyond: CBD industry on cusp of cannabis revolution - WATCH

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

The European Commission’s decision to classify cannabidiol (CBD)-containing products as a 'novel food,' continues to irk those in the sector as the nutrition industry gather once more for Vitafoods.

This year, the event recognises the emergence of CBD with an Education Programme Summit devoted to the ingredient and its associated hemp extracts.

Along with a host of CBD exhibitors showcasing their products, the signs point to a shift in the functional ingredient’s image from an alternative product, to increasingly sought-after plant-based ingredient.

Going mainstream

“There are other phytocannabinoids, apart from CBD,”​ said Boris Blatnik, co-founder of Kannaswiss, a Swiss-based company that makes consumable CBD products. “There is Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN) and Cannabichromene (CBC).

Right now delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are on a race to the bottom in terms of prices,” ​he added.  

“There’s so many other compounds that we’re now learning about and how they can affect the body and mind.” 

For the moment, the industry has its hands full with CBD, where along with its medicinal uses, its oil form is being sold as a health supplement, in well-known chains like Holland & Barrett.

Healthspan, the online vitamins and supplements supplier, recently signed an agreement​ with leading UK pharmacy Boots, which will see the retailer sell CBD Oil in over 400 stores across the UK and online.

The mainstream must surely be the next milestone for CBD brands and manufacturers, who appear to be flourishing across Europe, in no small part to consumers educating themselves on the health benefits and distinguishing between the natural compounds present in the Cannabis sativa​ plant.

Methods of delivery

“As consumers get educated on how it can help various symptoms in the body and mind, they are gradually coming to us for specific questions such as methods of delivery,”​ added Blatnik.

“There are many questions regarding the health benefits,”​ said Waldo Van Der Hal, partner at Renviden, a Dutch-based company that develops products based on a patented micro-encapsulated full spectrum CBD-oil.

“That’s also a challenge for CBD companies, who are not allowed to say anything about the health benefits.

“I think it isn’t interesting to market the benefits to users at the moment as users know exactly what it does to their body.

“In the end, it is very simple. We have these cannabinoids in our body. The only thing we do is add them from the plant to the body. It’s that simple.”

The thumbs-up of global bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO)​ has done much to boost Europe’s legal CBD market.

According to Brightfield Group​,​ an analytics and research firm, the market could reach €1.5bn ($1.7bn) by 2023, with its 2019-2023 compound annual growth rate (CAGR) totalling 42%.

The UK and Austria are the frontrunners in Europe's CBD market, with both countries expected to earn about €71m ($80m) each in 2018.

The report also highlighted Germany's growth, forecasted to generate a €540m ($605m) by 2023.

Other countries such as Switzerland and Spain are commended for efforts to build and improve regulations, giving buyers more confidence in the market in later years.

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