- Bell Flavors & Fragrances said its German operation is introducing a line of botanical flavors and extracts sourced from hemp, according to its website.
- The new ingredients are combined with other natural flavors in the Illinois-based company's portfolio. They can be used in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, baked goods, savory products and other applications.
- Because CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol THC are legally restricted within the European Union, Andrea Panajotowa, Bell's marketing specialist for flavors, told Food Ingredients First that the company had to balance EU regulations with sensory appeal when developing the new lineup.
With these new products, Bell is positioning itself to benefit from the trend of infusing foods and beverages with CBD and THC. Currently, hemp ingredients such as CBD oil, powders and seeds are being used in beverages such as iced tea and are being added to a wide variety of other foods, including ice cream, salads, milk and even children's cereal.
The hemp and CBD market continues to grow exponentially. Spending on all cannabinoids, which also includes marijuana and its psychoactive THC derivative, is projected to grow to $4.1 billion by 2022 from $1.5 billion last year, according to a report from BDS Analystics. And the retail value of all U.S. hemp products last year was estimated at $820 million, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center cited by MarketWatch.
As a result, ingredients manufacturers are jockeying to provide hemp-based products. Socati just announced a CBD oil product and a water-soluble powdered one derived from hemp. Chinese company Layn recently expanded into CBD with a $60 million investment, including a U.S. factory to process the ingredient.
However, there could be additional manufacturing and marketing challenges with hemp-based ingredients since hemp isn't the most desirable flavor or smell for food or beverage products. That's probably why Bell is adding the liquid hemp-sourced flavors and extracts to other natural flavors it sells. Such combinations no doubt extend the ingredients' usefulness and applicability to both sweet and savory items.
Bell told Food Ingredients First it has devised marketing strategies to accommodate consumer trends and regulatory environments in the EU and other overseas countries, as well as the U.S. and Canada. The company noted the most active hemp markets currently are in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France and Germany.
Although there are challenges with flavor and taste, a study from A.T. Kearney in 2018 found 40% of U.S. consumers said they would be willing to try a cannabis edible. A recent Rabobank report determined that CBD has been entering food and beverage products at an "astounding pace." As more companies look to add the substance to its products, Bell's new ingredients could be a lucrative ingredient line if regulatory hurdles and taste challenges can be addressed.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved generally recognized as safe status for hulled hemp seed, hemp seed protein powder, and hemp seed oil, the agency hasn't approved cannabis and CBD to be legally sold in conventional foods or dietary supplements.
This has created an uncertain regulatory climate for those companies looking to launch CBD ingredients, although plenty are going ahead with them anyway on the gamble the situation will eventually clear up. For Bell, it seems a worthy decision to launch its line of hemp-sourced flavors and extracts now. It not only can establish relationships with potential customers but spend time and money improving its offerings to make them even more attractive if and when the CBD market for food and beverages really takes off.