Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus
Startup Goodrays creates “CBD for every occasion”
Launched in 2020, the start-up has expanded from their original oils and gummies to launch their leading drinks range into top UK retailers last year.
Discussing the wide ranging consumption opportunities for CBD, Eoin Keenan, the brand's co-founder and CEO, tells NutraIngredients: “We are offering different formats that work within different consumer occasions. We have something for somebody that feels anxious first thing in the morning before work, something for stress and claustrophobia when going on the tube in between meetings, something for unwinding and relaxing after work…”
He says the demand for healthy alternatives to modulate cognition is growing, in-line with the increasingly holistic outlook on health, as consumers want to 'optimise' health, not just treat problems.
“People are looking to optimise… they’re not looking for a solution. They don’t expect this to make everything better, but they are looking at nutrition in the mindset of ‘how will this improve my day by 5 to 10%,” he highlights.
The company offers CBD gummies, containing 25mg of CBD in flavours ranging from lemon-lime to mango. In addition, their drinks contain 30mg of CBD with added vitamin D in flavours such as elderflower and yuzu, as well as raspberry and guava.
Keenan says the formats and quantities of CBD used are determined based on the available science, stressing the responsibility of CBD companies to retain consumer trust and share the evidence-backed benefits of CBD, amid current legislation bringing uncertainty to the category.
Keenan regards the key consumer usages for CBD use to be for sleep, stress, and anxiety; areas targeted by the company with studies highlighting their potential beneficial effects.
Describing the CBD quantities used within his product range, he explains: “There’s a real absence of evidence to show that a dosage below 20mg has a significant effect on decreasing anxiety, stress, and sleep issues. But when you look at higher dosages of 25-30mg and above, you start to see some clinical data showing a high 70% efficacy in consumers.
“We are trying to translate this to educate CBD consumers and take them on that journey – that’s to understand the science, how it works, and take it into mass market so everyone has access to high quality, premium CBD products,” he stresses.
Keenan says his background centred around CBD and medical cannabis as he studied Cannabis Policy as part of his Sociology and Geography undergraduate degree at Trinity College Dublin.
But he also had a personal discovery of the benefits of CBD following his diagnosis with a generalised anxiety disorder as well as insomnia during his time at university. Keenan found CBD to be an effective way to manage these conditions, due to it effects on the nervous system through interactions with the endocannabinoid system.
When he left university in 2014, he moved to working in the CBD industry in Canada and California; regions he describes as “blueprint markets at the time”. Keenan says these years of travelling allowed him to better understand the cannabis plant as well as the people growing it, enabling for the identification of top quality sources.
“I worked with everyone there, from the cultivators to the manufacturers, and all the way to the end products. It was really my passion project… it didn’t start as necessarily as a corporate venture. I had been using CBD from an early age at university,” he emphasises.
“The main things I wanted to tackle were sleep, stress, and anxiety, but I wanted to do it in a natural way. I found that [CBD] really worked. I think that was one of the reasons I really wanted to get involved in the industry and look at that in California.”
This led him to investigate the science behind CBD to identify an accurate dosage to achieve the associated benefits, as well as investigate when it should be used and the most effective delivery formats.
Eventually, this led him to setting up the Prohibition Partners in 2017; Europe’s largest consultancy for CBD and medicinal cannabis, during which he advised companies, researched the field, and advanced regulatory change in the area.
He says that this background of knowledge and research into CBD, as well as further work led to the founding of Goodrays.
Keenen addresses the current challenges in the CBD market following the 2019 regulation categorising CBD as a novel food and halting any additional brands or products onto the market.
“There’s a freeze on innovation and product development right now while the FSA processes CBD novel food applications. So like any challenger food and drinks brand, we’d love to launch new innovations, but compliance is a number one priority.
“We are waiting to see how the regulatory landscape develops. We’re in a good position because we have such a comprehensive range, so there’s plenty for us to be working on in terms of increasing distribution, getting it in front of people, constantly listening and understanding our consumer base. Then in the future, when the regulatory environment permits, we can launch new innovation.”