The use of cannabis in food products has gained rapid acceptance, primarily in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. However, this burgeoning trend in the food sector presents significant opportunities.
The Challenge: Reliable Information and the Marijuana Stigma
Despite the potential for increased sales in the cannabis market, only about one-third of CBD users have explored foods or beverages (F&B) with this added ingredient. The main challenges include the lack of reliable information and the lingering association of the word “cannabis” with marijuana.
A Growing Interest in CBD Products
Nevertheless, there is a growing interest in trying cannabidiol (CBD) products in various formats among consumers. This shift has led to F&B categories becoming suitable for exploration, giving brands multiple options when introducing CBD.
Health Takes Center Stage
Health seems to be a more significant factor than recreation when using this ingredient. This suggests that health-focused categories will be better positioned to meet the motivations driving increased CBD consumption.
THE CANNABIS MARKET IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY
The CBD market in food and beverages is particularly interested in indulgence, especially in items like sweet snacks and chocolate-flavored products. Brands targeting recreational users may find their niche in offering treats. However, quality and consistency remain areas that need attention among cannabis-focused brands.
Statistics show that one in five American adults who have tried CBD-infused foods or beverages report dealing with inconsistent quality. This lack of consistency has hindered the industry from being taken seriously until all players uphold a safe standard, much like any other health-oriented product.
As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not legally recognized or regulated CBD, citing the need for more information to establish its safety.
THE BENEFITS OF CANNABIS-INFUSED PRODUCTS
According to healthline.com, cannabis-infused foods, commonly known as edibles, offer various benefits. They are frequently used to treat appetite loss, pain, and weight loss in cancer patients. These edibles can also alleviate pain, muscle spasms, nausea, and vomiting, improve sleep quality, and reduce anxiety.
Consuming cannabis through edibles is considered healthier than smoking it because it involves inhaling hot smoke and carcinogens that can harm respiratory health.
Cannabis edibles contain numerous antioxidants that protect the body from stress and other damage related to issues like vascular disease and cancer.
Highsnobiety.com suggests that they can help control symptoms of diabetes, manage weight levels, improve digestive response, reduce inflammation, address chronic pain, neurological pain, overall pain, and cancer-related symptoms, and possess anti-tumor properties.
It’s crucial to note that raw cannabis does not have the same effects as consuming cannabis-based products. It must undergo a process known as decarboxylation to become active.
Raw cannabis is rich in:
– Vitamin K (essential for blood clotting)
– Vitamin C (essential for the immune system)
– Iron (essential for blood oxygenation)
– Calcium (essential for bones)
– Folate (essential for DNA repair)
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS SURROUNDING CANNABIS
Regulations regarding “novel” foods vary across countries, as some have not conducted thorough consumer safety evaluations.
The lack of knowledge about the effects of consuming CBD and THC in these foods remains the primary obstacle to their approval. In January 2020, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conducted a scientific assessment examining THC exposure through the consumption of CBD-containing foods.
On the other hand, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated in January 2020 that it had no plans to issue further guidance on the use of CBD in foods and supplements. It argued that the country needed to develop a new legal framework to ensure its safety. The regulatory health agency said it would collaborate with Congress to create an interagency regulatory framework and rejected three citizen petitions requesting guidance.
The FDA stated that the available data did not demonstrate how CBD products could meet the safety standard for substances in animal food, and it had no plans to issue new rules allowing the compound’s use in animal food, as reported by Reuters.
LATIN AMERICA’S ROLE IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY
Currently, countries like Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, and Uruguay already market cannabis-derived products. This underscores the significant role Latin America plays in the cannabis landscape. Uruguay became the first country to approve legislation and create a national legal market for medical cannabis in 2013.
Since then, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have followed suit, legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Furthermore, Mexico and other countries are considering legalizing the production and sale of hemp and medicinal cannabis.
The cannabis industry in Latin America is in its nascent stage and is primarily driven by increased access to medicinal cannabis products. Euromonitor International reported a 17% growth in the Latin American cannabis industry in 2021, reaching a value of $170 million
However, cultivating marijuana has not been as profitable as anticipated due to various factors, including foreign competition and high regulatory costs. Despite having 57,000 hectares authorized by the government for legal cannabis cultivation, more than any other Latin American country, Colombia has lagged in developing the industry.