CERIA Brewing Company, the accelerator and incubator program’s first participant, will work with Growpacker to launch a cannabis-infused beer in North America.
While beer brands have received a lot of attention for dipping their toes into the cannabis space, market researchers say the potential for non-alcoholic beverages and snack products using CBD (the part of the plant which doesn't deliver the high) in its formulations is huge with arguably wider market reach in the US with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, despite the FDA's clear stance that CBD is illegal to use as a food or beverage ingredient.
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA, a representative from Growpacker said that the program is open to any food or beverage brand working with anything from a broad spectrum hemp extract (which contains CBD, among other things, but less than 0.3% THC) to a CBD isolate, and that it will be announcing new participants to the program in the coming months.
Anyone walking the floor at the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, California, last week, could see droves of brands clambering to hop on the CBD train with supplements, drinks, and snacks using the hot ingredient.
And despite the legal uncertainty around the ingredient, the market potential is significant, co-founder and managing partner of New York-based venture fund AccelFoods, Jordan Gaspar told FoodNavigator-USA last month: "If anything, we think there’s a possibility it [CBD]could be a $20bn category by 2021. It’s opening up in food and beverage products, and supplements. The retailers are all talking about opening up space for it and the strategics are very aware of it."
The new brand incubator and accelerator program gives Growpacker manufacturing partners the opportunity to leverage the company’s industry expertise, gain early access to new formulations, receive discounted services, and fast-track their market penetration in California to begin with.
Growpacker explained that it has all of its licensing in place for California and that it could "theoretically" take on national CBD clients as the company grows and the regulatory climate for the use of CBD as a food or beverage ingredient becomes more clear cut.
"We have seen tremendous interest in this incubator program and look forward to building one of North America’s largest portfolios of innovative cannabis brands," said Stephen Boyd, CEO of Growpacker.