Patience continues to be the watchword when it comes to innovation in the cannabinoid beverage space.
Developments continue but companies appear to be willing to take their time to enter the market, prepare for its expansion as liberalisation of regulations continues, and get formulations of current offerings right.
Boston Beer, the company behind a slew of famous American craft beer brands, including Samuel Adams Boston Lager and the Dogfish Head range of beers, is one of those that is biding its time to enter the market and is ready to wait for further liberalisation to create better market conditions.
The company has been developing a range of non-alcoholic, CBD-infused drinks since it created a Canada-based research and innovation hub dedicated to cannabis last May. CEO Dave Burwick said the firm had faith in CBD beverages because drinkers were continuing to seek out new options and non-alcoholic beverages were “a new frontier of innovation”.
While the firm continues to formulate the range of drinks for launch in Canada it will continue to gauge evolving regulation stateside so it will be “ready for future opportunities in the US”.
To develop its Canadian product, the brewery hired Paul Weaver – former head of innovation at cannabis producer Canopy Growth – and entered into a five-year agreement with manufacturer Peak Processing Solutions as well as WeedMD, a subsidiary of cannabis grower Entourage Health.
“We know cannabis is new for many of our drinkers and they deserve the best, which is why we’re taking the time to do this right,” said Weaver.
Peak Processing has been developing the beverages at its facility in Ontario using Entourage’s cannabinoid-rich input. Entourage will now be the exclusive distributor of the cannabis-infused beverages in Canada.
“The cannabis market is constantly evolving and with a growing base of consumers seeking alternatives, we’re excited to partner with Boston Beer and Peak to elevate our offerings with Canadian-made, cannabis-infused beverages developed by one of North America’s most iconic craft beer brands,” said Entourage’s interim CEO George Scorsis.
Meanwhile multi-state cannabis company Ayr Wellness also chose to wait and see before entering the cannabinoid beverage space. It elected finally to do so by acquiring Cultivauna, the owner of the Levia brand of cannabis-infused seltzers and water-soluble tinctures, for $20m.
“Levia is a truly unique product that we believe will be game-changing to the mainstreaming of cannabis in the US,” said Jonathan Sandelman, CEO of Ayr Wellness.“With a formula that provides consistently great flavour and zero calories in an infused beverage experience, we believe Levia has enormous potential as an alcohol alternative.”
The seltzer comes in 12 oz slim cans containing 5 mg of THC.
Levia uses a proprietary technology, which it claims enables the effects of the THC to last for up to three hours, rather than the typical 15-20 minutes. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of 2021.
And as for patience in terms of perfecting product formulation, the Flower Power Coffee Company has spent two years developing a patent-pending process to preserve the consistency of the hemp-derived CBD in its new line of CBD coffee K-Cups after recognising a gap in the market. K-Cups, the pods used with many Nespresso/Keurig-type home coffee machines, have traditionally been a difficult sub-sector for CBD-infused coffee to penetrate.
The firm says lab tests indicate that CBD is often lost in the process of brewing or filtering coffee, leaving significant variation in terms of consumable end product that often disappoints consumers. But it says it has fixed this and guarantees a consistent 25 mg of lab-tested hemp-derived CBD in every cup of coffee made from one of its pods. This new product is being sold directly through its website as well a limited number of other retail channels.
“We’ve taken every measure to ensure premium quality, from the selection of our roasting partners to our rigorous quality control and lab testing,” said Flower Power CEO Chuck Siegel. “It’s taken us two years, but as you’ll see, taste and feel, the results were worth it.”
– Lorraine Mullaney CBD-Intel staff
Photo: Marko Milivojevic