Molson Coors-backed Veryvell CBD sparkling water gains steam in evolving market
Molson Coors and HEXO Corp operate both a Canadian (Truss Beverages that sells cannabis and CBD beverages) and US business (Truss CBD USA that exclusively sells CBD-infused beverages).
"Veryvell was founded in Canada with the Truss Beverages team, and then we brought it down to the US, and we adapted it for US regulation and also for the US consumers," Hockman told FoodNavigator-USA.
The brand is available for retail sale in Colorado, and last month rolled out to 17 more states through its direct-to-consumer platform.
"Right now we’re focused on the states individually. We only enter very well-defined, well regulated markets, and we have a high level of commitment of following all regulations within those markets," said Hockman.
'One thing Molson Coors knows very well is regulation'
With only a handful of US states explicitly permitting the retail sale of CBD food and beverage products, entering new markets can be a regulatory minefield for the burgeoning category of CBD brands.
Luckily, Truss is backed by one of the largest alcohol companies in the world with experience navigating the regulated red tape of the consumer beverage space.
"As you can imagine, one thing Molson Coors knows very well is regulation, as does HEXO and bringing regulated products in food and beverage to the market. We also know quality very well, and we’re committed to quality in this space and making sure we do all the testing to meet any sort of quality standard in the market," said Hockman.
Truss sources all of its CBD from Colorado. HEXO recently opened a 50,000-square-foot production facility in Fort Collins, Colorado to manufacture its Powered by HEXO broad spectrum CBD for use in food and beverage products. Eventually the facility will be able to support non-beverage related CPG projects as well, according to the company.
Every can of Veryvell has a QR code printed on it so that consumers can access the company's certificate of analysis for its CBD and other functional ingredients, added Hockman.
"We’re committed to bring consistency, appropriate efficacy, and high quality to this space, and I think that we’ve done that with VeryVell and I think consumers are appreciating that and noticing it," she said.
How are consumers thinking about CBD?
Still somewhat of a fledgling category, consumers' interest in CBD and what it can 'do' for them will be what drives the CBD food and beverage segment forward along with expanded regulation, noted Hockman.
While Veryvell does not make any health-related claims for any of its products, Hockman said that consumers are turning to the brand for different mood-based usage occasions, from an afternoon work slump to hiking outdoors. Veryvell has three SKUs -- Focus, Mind & Body, and Unwind -- with 20mg of broad spectrum CBD and other on-trend ingredients such as elderberry, guarana, and L-theanine, said Hockman.
"They give really clear use occasions to consumers on how to interact with the product," said Hockman.
"Our target with Veryvell is to enable consumers to work it into their day-to-day life and incorporate it into their existing health and wellness routines. We’ve gotten great feedback from consumers on those occasions."
Veryvell recently launched a line of CBD drops in the same varieties as its sparkling beverages line to allow consumers another way to customize their CBD intake.
Back to growth?
After a period of intense hype from the market, sales of CBD shelf-stable beverages dropped 11% year on year in the 52 weeks ended April 18, 2021, according to SPINS data.
In its 2021 report, market research firm The Brightfield Group argued that the COVID-19 pandemic stunted the US CBD market in 2020 and for most of 2021, but predicts the market will "see a lift through the end of the year for the brands that have survived the pandemic" and that the CBD industry is poised for stronger growth in 2022, reaching $16bn in sales by 2025.
Hockman also noted how retailers are re-engaging with the category and claimed that consumer interest is picking back up again.
"We’re getting a lot of interest from retailers as it’s something additive to their portfolio and maybe something they haven’t had before, and they have consumers coming in and asking for it," she said.
"It’s an exciting category that’s meeting consumers right at a time that they’re looking for those health and wellness rituals and routines and shifting to that non-alcoholic category. We’ve watched functional beverages really start to enter that space in a positive way," she added.