It’s high time we talked about CBD. Food Spark has tiptoed around the fringe of this trend, taking a cautious whiff, while covering other cannabis-derived products like hemp. It might have seemed rather too niche, but there’s no escaping the fact that CBD (short for cannabidiol) continues to proliferate in product development.
For those that haven’t partaken yet, it is a non-psychoactive chemical compound, most commonly found as an oil, that is legal in the EU and the US. The number of consumers buying CBD-containing items has doubled in the past year, according to the Cannabis Trades Association UK, largely thanks to the perception that is has a relaxing, calming effect and can relieve pain.
As an alternative medicinal remedy – found on the high street in outlets such as Holland & Barrett – it’s been around for some time, but it’s only recently that it’s been turning up in beauty products, dog treats and, of course, food and beverage.
Earlier this month, dirty vegan restaurant group By Chloe unveiled a range of CBD-infused desserts called Feelz into its London branch after a successful stint across the pond, with the chain’s co-founder Samantha Wasser saying: "I am a big believer in the benefits of CBD and the potential of this ever-expanding industry.”
The CBD oil industry is set to grow 700% over the next four years, according to Hemp Business Journal.
So just what is going on with CBD and NPD in the UK?
Surfing the weed wave
First of all, it’s worth mentioning what CBD tastes like. In its pure and unfiltered state, it has a grassy, earthy and often nutty flavour profile.
Earthiness isn’t for everyone, however, so when used in food or drink, the taste is often masked – the driving force behind the growing trend is to do with the perceived effect it has rather than the flavour.
With connotations of happiness and comfort, it’s no wonder that CBD and desserts are starting to become familiar bedfellows. In August, for example, what was alleged to be the world’s first vegan CBD-infused yoghurt debuted at Yogland in West London, flavoured with Japanese matcha tea.
Yogland, who are planning to open outlets in the USA, India and Oman in the near future, describe CBD as “nature’s superpower.”
Drinks are starting to get a CBD upgrade too. Maison Bab, a new kebab restaurant that opened last month, offers a Gin and Chronic cocktail containing CBD oil, Bombay Sapphire and lemon.
Popular vegan haunt Farmacy has gone for a CBD-infused shot, of sorts. Named the O.M.G, it comes in a syringe and contains organic CBD powder, flaxseed oil and grapefruit.
There are also some brands dabbling with chocolate and CBD. Planet Organic currently stocks raw CBD chocolate from plant-based purveyors Almighty Foods as well as a CBD hummus from London-based company Themptation.
Replacing alcohol with CBD
Also in September, Botanic Lab released what they claimed to be the UK’s first CBD-infused soft drink. Founder Rebekah Hall suggested that CBD could revolutionise the alcohol-free category, claiming that the cannabinoid is “one of the most talked about and culturally significant plant ingredients of the last 100 years.”
Herbal supplement brand Sober Up is a taking a similar line, with founder Harry Drnec, once the CEO of Red Bull UK, an advocate for the use of CBD in the science behind ditching alcohol.
"Each and every day we're seeing more and more of the health benefits that come from CBD in medical studies,” he said. “Recently. CBD has been shown to have a further benefit for liver health."
Even the mighty Coca-Cola are getting involved.
It was reported last month that the world’s largest beverage company have been in “serious talks” with Aurora Cannabis Inc. about potentially starting a new range of CBD-infused drinks under the brand.
It’s rumoured that the range could fall under the “recovery drink” category.