- David Klein, who created Jelly Belly jelly beans in 1976, has started a company called Spectrum Confections to sell CBD-infused jelly beans.
- The jelly beans are available in three varieties: 38 regular flavors, 38 sour options and seven sugar-free flavors. Each jelly bean contains 10 milligrams of CBD, Klein told Food Dive. Spectrum Confections sold out of its initial production.
- Klein and his partner sold the rights to Jelly Belly in 1980 for $4.8 million. In 2001, the Herman Goelitz Candy Company was renamed the Jelly Belly Company. "Every single day that we were not in the jelly bean business was a day of misery for me and agony," he said in an interview. "We're back in. Those 40 years of torture are over with."
CBD is spreading everywhere — and jelly beans are the latest innovation. More companies are infusing classic food products with cannabis as the CBD market grows. The broader CBD market, which includes food, is expected to hit $22 billion by 2022.
Klein's experience with jelly beans will likely help him with his new endeavor. After he sold the trademark to Jelly Belly, the self-proclaimed "Candyman" has been trying to find his way back into the industry.
When his wife fell down in Colorado recently, Klein said she was in "tremendous pain" until they were able to get her edibles. Although he isn't making any health claims about his product, he said that incident made him want to create a product with CBD to help people. Given Klein's history with jelly beans and growing consumer fascination with CBD, the candy could be a hit.
Although there are regulatory questions around the ingredient in food and beverage products, the recent passage of the farm bill provided more clarity for hemp and CBD-infused products. Big Food is keeping a close eye on the trend, while smaller companies have pounced on the opportunity by putting products on the market. Increasingly, more consumers have expressed an interest in trying the ingredient. According to a study from A.T. Kearney, 41% of Americans are willing to try recreational cannabis in foods such as candy and packaged foods.
Just after the recent launch, Spectrum Confections sold out of its initial production. The company is waiting for more ingredients to come and then it will offer the jelly beans for sale again on its website. Spectrum Confections is selling the jelly beans in bulk online and the price is dependent upon what each batch of CBD costs them. Klein said he has seen more people willing to try cannabis-infused products since the farm bill and has been highly encouraged by interest so far. The business is getting about 150 telephone calls per hour from people interested in the jelly beans, he said.
"I've never seen anything like this," Klein told Food Dive. "Part of it is people want more CBD, but part of it has to be the fact that I created Jelly Belly so I have credibility."
When Klein first sold Jelly Belly, he reportedly signed a 20-year non-compete clause. Klein also has headed up an online business called Candyman Kitchens that sells gimmicks such as candy sand and blood. He also started a Kickstarter campaign to launch coffee house jelly beans, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Cannabis-infused food and drinks have captured some interest by larger companies, too. Canopy Growth, received a $4 billion investment by Cornona owner Constellation Brands last August. Molson Coors Brewing, which has a controlling interest in HEXO, formerly known as Hydropothecary, is working to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market. In December, Tilray entered into a joint venture worth $100 million with AB InBev to develop non-alcoholic drinks with CBD and THC. Even Coca-Cola has reportedly looked into the space, but CEO James Quincey has downplayed getting into it anytime soon.
If the interest and sales continue for Spectrum Confections, other companies could be looking to follow suit and put CBD into their confectionary products. In 2017, New Frontier Data estimated the entire U.S. CBD industry rose nearly 40%, growing to $367 million in sales, with further growth expected in the coming years.
"This year, growth is going to be tremendous," Klein said. "I’ve been in the candy business for 45 years, I've never been more optimistic of anything that I've ever done."