Beverages are a rapidly-growing segment of the CBD industry, and are predicted to generate $1.4B in annual sales by 2023. In this interview, Breck Speed and Cameron Meshell of Farmington Research describe their process of infusing beverages with CBD, the history and driving ideology behind their business, what makes CBD-infused beverages such an exciting consumer goods opportunity, and much more!
Ganjapreneur: What would you say are the biggest problems facing cannabis and CBD brands who want to develop infused beverage products?
Breck Speed: I come from a background of over 30 years in the healthy beverage business both as a bottler and a brand owner. For beverage brands, delivering a great tasting product to consumers also having a discernible benefit is the whole ball game. Fail that test and consumers will go elsewhere. So when I became intrigued with the developing cannabis/CBD market I was concerned to discover serious issues with taste, smell, and solubility in the available extracts in the marketplace. At Farmington, we believe we have solved those issues.
How has Farmington Research addressed common cannabis beverage issues like solubility, taste, and smell? Have you seen issues like this in other beverage markets?
Cameron Meshell: Solubility, taste, and smell are major issues for most cannabis extracts in beverage applications. Other beverage additives may have an issue with one of those factors like Stevia (taste) or CO2 (poor solubility at warm temperatures). Cannabis has issues with all three and presents a real challenge to flavor companies and brand owners. Farmington Research has developed a proprietary process over the last several years which addresses these factors and allows brand developers much more freedom to create wonderful tasting products. We can’t tell you how but we can prove it! Sample us, test us, taste us and you’ll be convinced.
Why are beverages an ideal form of consumption for cannabis and CBD?
Breck Speed: Beverages are familiar to consumers. It is the way they enjoy alcohol, how they hydrate and refresh, what they turn to for energy, and more recently what they consume for a wellness benefit. The only thing missing for them to fully enjoy CBD or Cannabis in beverages is a reliable, familiar way to understand the dosing. The brands delivering on reliable dosing will be big winners.
What role does Farmington Research play in the development of new products for clients?
Cameron Meshell: Like Breck, I used to run a bottling operation. We don’t just understand the science behind cannabis and CBD. We also understand working with flavor houses, the mechanics of batching, bottling, testing, compliance, and the sourcing of supplies. The nuts and bolts of what it takes to bottle a brand and get it in distribution. That experience really streamlines the relationship with brand owners whether they are new to the business or “beverage war” veterans. Working with Farmington is a “value added” experience.
As consultants how does the Farmington Research team stay informed on the regulatory uncertainty and changes that happen in the developing market?
Breck Speed: I was an attorney with a practice representing businesses in regulated industries before I was in the beverage market. I also was closely involved as the Chairman of the International Bottled Water Association in the many legal and political challenges that particular industry has faced over the last 30 years. To stay informed on the legal hurdles in the developing cannabis market we consume industry news closely from multiple sources, follow the statements of the FDA and state authorities closely, share information with other leaders in the cannabis market, and attend conferences and seminars. It’s a “firehose” of information to consume right now. We do all of this so we can share what we learn with our extract customers so they can develop the best practices to stay out of the crosshairs of regulators.
What is the biggest misconception about CBD-infused products within the industry right now?
Breck Speed: The biggest misconception has been exposed! Early on people believed the market would take off like a rocket and were surprised when it was more like a late model sedan. I do believe the market will be quite large in the not-too-distant future and I see a lot of consumer products companies taking steps to participate. But regulatory uncertainty has delayed participation by major brands, retailers, and distributors. That hesitation has created an opportunity for early movers who under normal market conditions would be left looking for small niches.
Where does Farmington Research source the hemp for your CBD formulations? Are there multiple genetics available for product formulation?
Cameron Meshell: We process hemp currently from farmers licensed by states having a clear and clean testing record. But we are not hemp or cannabis producers ourselves so will gladly work with a brand owner to process the hemp they specify. If a brand owner wants certified organic hemp, if they want cannabis from a certain state for marketing purposes, if they want something with more CBG or terpenes, we have the experience and contacts to make it happen. We are not a one size fits all kind of supplier.
How do you guarantee consistent quality and potency of your products?
Cameron Meshell: Testing, Testing, Testing. We have a sophisticated production laboratory and a process we believe through experience delivers a consistent extract for use in beverages – but we prove it daily. We require testing of the hemp or cannabis in the field. We test it upon receipt at our facility. We test it after extraction. And we work with our brand partners to test it after their production runs. All of our testing results are available to our brand partners and their consumers. Not many other beverage suppliers are so transparent but we believe it is absolutely essential in this new market where consumers are deciding if this is something they want to try, trust, and keep using.
What role do you think infused beverages will play in society five years from now?
Breck Speed: To be honest, CBD and cannabis have been part of society for many, many decades. Now legal and largely socially acceptable, infused beverages will follow a macro trend of consumers seeking out healthy, ‘better-for-you’ drinks. Brands will participate in the fast growing wellness beverage market. They will be part of the premium beverage market. And they will take significant market share in the alcohol market for people who want to relax or recreate but don’t want the significant negative effects of alcohol. It will be a completely normal thing in five years and used for lots of different occasions in our society.
Thanks, Breck and Cameron, for answering all of our questions! You can follow up to learn more about Farmington Research at FarmingtonResearch.com.