In the brand's home state of Colorado, where Oscamou claimed that state law explicitly allows food and beverage manufacturers to use CBD in products, Oscamou said that he and his business partner, John Simmons, have become comfortable with a healthy dose of risk tolerance in using the word 'CBD' on the front of the can for its new sparkling water line.
While some firms are deliberately avoiding the term CBD and referencing 'hemp' or 'hemp extract' on pack owing to the legal uncertainty over CBD (which the FDA still says is not permitted in foods and supplements), the term consumers are most familiar with and seek out in the market place is CBD, said Oscamou.
Oscamou and Simmons decided to enter the sparkling water category after noticing the market demand for a zero-calorie infusion of CBD for different day parts. Cannabidiol (CBD) beverages alone could reach $260m in the US by 2022, one market research report forecasted.
"We built our business around the risk profile around this particular ingredient. When we were out in the market and listening to our consumers, we realized that the awareness was really around CBD and it could be very challenging to have to go out and educate consumers about 'hemp extract'. We do use hemp extracts with multiple cannabinoids, but consumers are really aware of CBD and we want to make sure we’re giving people what they want," Oscamou told this publication at the Natural Products Expo West show earlier this month.
The company's new sparkling water is labeled as containing 25mg of CBD (from full spectrum hemp extract) available in watermelon, black cherry, and tangerine.
"We wanted to eliminate confusion, we wanted to be as transparent as we could, so for us, that meant being comfortable with the risk factors associated with saying, 'CBD'," said Oscamou.
'There's a lot of [retailer] interest'
The sparkling water will be hitting select store shelves in the near future, said Oscamou, who said retailer interest is very high.
"We’ve been working with several of our existing retail partners to get it out. You’ll find it in coffee shops, some of the larger independent grocery chains around the country, we’re just getting started," he said.
As far as store placement, Oscamou added that the brand wants to be sitting next to other functional ready to drink beverages in the sought-after chilled beverage cooler.
"The consumer set that’s drinking kombucha and has really adopted that whole category, that’s the same sort of consumer that’s looking for CBD products," said Oscamou.
"What’s interesting is that we found our CBD consumer spans a really wide range of demographics: They're baby boomers, all the way down to younger than you might think."
Oscamou said that the company anticipates a lot more brands coming out with their own CBD RTD beverages, but that not every single product is going to taste very good.
"Working with CBD is not just like dropping your CBD into the product ... we had to find the right formulations to make the products taste really good," Oscamou said.
"Consumers want delicious products, and so do I."