Products made with hemp will soon appear on more retail shelves nationwide. That’s because the 2018 Farm Bill just legalized industrial hemp production in the United States and experts predict this legislative change will spark an explosion of product innovation. 1 Weed, Julie. US Farm Bill Will Make CBD Production Legal And Cheaper. Forbes. December 19, 2018. 

Specifically, hemp is in demand for its cannabidiol (CBD), a compound that does not contain psychoactive ingredients, meaning it won’t get consumers high. CBD is such an in-demand ingredient that experts expect it to show up in more grocery, pharmacy, beauty and pet products this year.

Notably, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved hemp CBD supplements, food and cosmetics on a national scale, though that decision could take place within the next 18 to 24 months.2Kaiserman, Beth. What’s Next For CBD Food And Drink In 2019? Forbes. December 29, 2018. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal to introduce drug ingredients like CBD into the food supply or to market them as dietary supplements. Nonetheless, retail companies and consumers remain enthusiastic about products containing hemp-derived CBD.

Why is hemp so hot?
The easing of cannabis restrictions in many states and Canada’s recent legalization of recreational cannabis has put CBD in the global spotlight. According to a recent report, the CBD market could reach $22 billion over the next five years as its stigma fades and more research attests to its medicinal benefits.3Taylor, Natalie. Fairway Debuts Private Label CBD Line. Winsight Grocery Business. January 4, 2019. This year alone, sales of hemp-derived CBD in the U.S. are expected to rise almost tenfold to US$5.7 billion.4Giamonna, Craig. Trendy hemp compound CBD set for big boost from U.S. farm bill. Bloomberg News. December 19, 2018.

Consumer demand has soared for CBD for its natural therapeutic value, including relieving physical and mental health issues like pain and inflammation, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Meanwhile, retail companies like hemp because it is easier and more affordable to grow than cannabis, which also contains CBD (in addition to the psychoactive compound THC).5 Weed, Julie. US Farm Bill Will Make CBD Production Legal And Cheaper. Forbes. December 19, 2018.

Retail companies adapt to CBD demand
CBD has already been lauded as a superfood ingredient in grocery products, including edibles like beverages, candy and cookies. Pharmacy retailers are adapting to consumers’ health and wellness needs by offering vitamins and supplements containing CBD, as well as medicinal CBD oils for people – and even pets.

Recently some of the world’s biggest consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, including Heineken USA and Coca-Cola, expressed interest in CBD and cannabis-enhanced drinks.6 Taylor, Natalie. Fairway Debuts Private Label CBD Line. Winsight Grocery Business. January 4, 2019. Such high-profile corporate interest boosts the credibility and legitimacy of this formerly stigmatized sector.

More consumers are soothing their anxious pets by giving them products containing CBD. Many pet lovers insist that CBD products help to calm their pets during stressful events like thunderstorms. As a result, the Brightfield Group estimates CBD pet product sales could reach $1.16 billion industry in the U.S. by 2022.7LaVito, Angelica. Pets are the hot new cannabis customer as owners use CBD to ease pain and thunderstorm anxiety. CNBC. May 5, 2019.

Amid the enthusiasm for hemp, inconsistencies among local, state and federal regulations to date have led to confusion among retailers and consumers. The lack of political alignment has likely prevented major retailers from entering the market, yet it also created new opportunities for smaller retailers to target this niche.

For instance, East Coast chain Fairway Market just became one of the first American grocers in the U.S. to launch its own brand of CBD products. To give consumers natural options, the line includes oils, capsules, lotions and balms, including products labeled as “hemp balm” or “hemp oil.”8 Sherred, Kristine. Retailers see opportunities to promote CBD products. Grocery Dive. January 7, 2019.,9Taylor, Natalie. Fairway Debuts Private Label CBD Line. Winsight Grocery Business. January 4, 2019.
In Colorado, where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2014, grocery chain Alfalfa’s Market launched a marketing campaign called “New Relaxed You” to promote its CBD and hemp-based products, which range from lotions and tinctures to CBD chocolates, cookies, coffee and dog treats.10Sherred, Kristine. Retailers see opportunities to promote CBD products. Grocery Dive. January 7, 2019.

CBD’s popularity among consumers has also captured the attention and interest of leading retailers:

  • Sephora: New product innovations on the beauty giant’s shelves include CBD-infused moisturizing lotion made from organically cultivated hemp. The lotions can soothe sore muscles and provide an effective post-workout recovery, while also relieving cramps, arthritis and sore feet.11Gonzalez, Danielle. Sephora’s Best CBD And Cannabis Beauty Products. Huffington Post. January 22, 2019.
  • Walgreens: Walgreens announced plans to sell CBD creams, patches and sprays in nearly 1,500 stores in select states, including Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois and Indiana.12LaVito, Angelica. Walgreens to sell CBD products in 1,500 stores. CNBC. March 27, 2019.
  • CVS: CVS Pharmacy announced that it will begin selling hemp-derived CBD products, such as creams, sprays and roll-ons, as “an alternative source of relief.” CVS also announced its partnership with a company to test and verify the quality of the CBD topicals sold in its drug stores. CVS’ CBD products will be sold in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee.13Charles, M.D., Shamard. CVS to sell CBD products in 800 stores in 8 states. NBC News. March 21, 2019.

Now that the 2018 Farm Bill is law, industry experts say it’s only a matter of time before national retailers like Target and Walmart add cannabis products on their shelves.14Giamonna, Craig. Trendy hemp compound CBD set for big boost from U.S. farm bill. Bloomberg News. December 19, 2018.Consumers’ attitudes and state regulations continue to evolve, and fresh scientific studies illuminate the therapeutic applications of hemp CBD. As a result, more retailers and brands are adapting their assortments to offer hemp CBD products to give consumers more choice, and align with their desire for natural products that reflect their health and wellness priorities.  

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1, 5. Weed, Julie. US Farm Bill Will Make CBD Production Legal And Cheaper. Forbes. December 19, 2018.
2. Kaiserman, Beth. What’s Next For CBD Food And Drink In 2019? Forbes. December 29, 2018.
3. Taylor, Natalie. Fairway Debuts Private Label CBD Line. Winsight Grocery Business. January 4, 2019.
4, 14. Giamonna, Craig. Trendy hemp compound CBD set for big boost from U.S. farm bill. Bloomberg News. December 19, 2018.
6. Taylor, Natalie. Fairway Debuts Private Label CBD Line. Winsight Grocery Business. January 4, 2019.
7. LaVito, Angelica. Pets are the hot new cannabis customer as owners use CBD to ease pain and thunderstorm anxiety. CNBC. May 5, 2019.
8. Sherred, Kristine. Retailers see opportunities to promote CBD products. Grocery Dive. January 7, 2019.
9. Taylor, Natalie. Fairway Debuts Private Label CBD Line. Winsight Grocery Business. January 4, 2019.
10. Sherred, Kristine. Retailers see opportunities to promote CBD products. Grocery Dive. January 7, 2019.
11. Gonzalez, Danielle. Sephora’s Best CBD And Cannabis Beauty Products. Huffington Post. January 22, 2019.
12. LaVito, Angelica. Walgreens to sell CBD products in 1,500 stores. CNBC. March 27, 2019.
13. Charles, M.D., Shamard. CVS to sell CBD products in 800 stores in 8 states. NBC News. March 21, 2019.

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