Attendees at this week’s BevNet Live Conference in Santa Monica report that VC’s and Private Equity companies were scheduling back-to-back meetings as they chased opportunities to invest in the booming area of cannabis infused drinks, including kombucha. New and existing brands alike share in the massive interest in the incorporation of marijuana, hemp, THC, and CBD as functional ingredients in food and beverage brands.
But this does not mean the CBD-only infusions are going to be sold everywhere. There are concerns that CBD is an ingredient that both the FDA and the California Department of Public Health’s Food and Drug Branch have repeatedly said is NOT legal in foods, beverages or dietary supplements. While the pending 2018 Farm Bill might lead some companies to hope this will change, they admit to operating in a “gray area”.
GTs joins a select number of other brewers such as Awaken Kombucha in Florida and Good Stuff Tonics in San Diego who infuse their ‘booch with these ingredients. Good Stuff contains THC and is only sold in licensed dispensaries. It’s hoped this restriction won’t apply to CDB-only infusions, since CBD is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis.
The BevNET Live Winter 2018 conference, sponsored in part by ForceBrands, took place from Dec. 3-4. Read on for a few major takeaways from entrepreneurs and experts in the beverage industry who participated in panel discussions on Monday.
Dream Catcher beverages will be sold in Southern California starting in late December, and Dave has future plans to expand beyond the region.
2. Instead of competing, large retailers can serve as launching pads for smaller brands
While it’s true that large retailers have an advantage in the beverage industry, smaller brands don’t have to compete with them — instead, they can cooperate. Sarah Alderson, the Direct Marketing Manager of Chilled Packaged Goods for Walmart, explained how major national retailers like Walmart, were actively promoting up-and-coming beverage brands. Alderson says that 800 Walmart stores are now considered “high emerging brand stores,” which specifically aim to reserve shelf space for smaller brands and give them a boost.