Mondelez — the Illinois-based maker of Oreo cookies, Triscuit crackers and many other products — is considering adding CBD as an ingredient in its snack lineup, according to CNBC. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound sourced from hemp that can be used to aid in inflammation and relaxation, but does not bring about a high.
CEO Dirk Van de Put told CNBC in a May 1 interview that while CBD might not work for Oreos or the company's other family-centered brands, it could be added to different items or appear in future innovations. "Yes, we’re getting ready, but we obviously want to stay within what is legal and play it the right way," he told the news channel.
Even though most products containing CBD are legal since the 2019 Farm Bill became law in December, the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved adding it to foods and beverages. The agency plans to hold a hearing on the issue May 31, and Van de Put said he's hoping more clarity regarding CBD in food products will follow.
Like other big CPG manufacturers including Coca-Cola, Mondelez is exploring adding CBD to its products — but waiting to see how federal regulators plan to handle the rulemaking process before jumping into the segment with both feet. Van de Put also told CNBC that Mondelez is checking into health claims associated with CBD, which include the ability to lessen pain and anxiety.
Meanwhile, CBD and non-psychoactive terpenes from cannabis — as well as its high-producing THC — have been appearing in beverages in states where such products are legal. In 2017, Heineken-owned Lagunitas Brewing debuted a non-psychoactive, cannabis-flavored IPA brewed with terpenes — organic compounds that give plants their flavors — and the company introduced a THC-based sparkling water last year.
Other recent product introductions containing CBD are a nutrition bar from California-based SNAAK Bar that markets itself as optimizing sports performance — and is only available in California and online — and Weller Coconut Bites, bringing CBD to clean-label snacks.
If and when the FDA adopts clearer regulations about CBD in foods and beverages, it's possible Mondelez will come out with infused products or add new items containing CBD to its portfolio. However, it doesn't seem like its best-known products — including Oreos, Chips Ahoy cookies and Ritz crackers — will be in that lineup. Still, it is not out of the realm of possibility that consumers could find CBD-infused Trident gum or other Mondelez products on store shelves at some point.
This move could pay off because a significant number of consumers say they are willing to purchase snack products containing CBD. According to a recent study from High Yield Insights, 40% of U.S. consumers 21 and older said they would try it.
And there is a lot of revenue waiting to made from the segment. A BDS Analytics report on the edibles market found spending on marijuana and THC was projected to jump to $4.1 billion by 2022, up from $1.5 billion last year.
Mondelez is already one of the world's largest snack companies with brands known, loved and trusted worldwide. An early move into CBD could help continue that dominance and would pay off — in terms of consumer dollars as well as innovation, publicity and opening up the CBD-enhanced food market.