Creating quality cannabis-infused food and beverage products requires ingredients that meet manufacturers’ rigorous standards, from safety and transparency to innovation and customization.
Suppliers of cannabis ingredients and emulsion technologies say they’ve taken steps to deliver on these demands, through their own quality assurance programs and product introductions.
Nicole Brown, chief revenue officer, Open Book Extracts (OBX), Roxboro, NC, notes providing quality ingredients requires paying close attention to all parts of the development process.
“Our robust quality control program touches all aspects of our ingredient sourcing, production, and finished product formulations,” she says. “It also serves as the foundation for every international quality assurance and compliance standard demanded by both domestic and global clients.”
Donna Wamsley, director of research and analytics, SōRSE Technology, Seattle, also pointed to the importance of ensuring the safety of ingredients.
“All product developers care about consumer safety, and because of that, they’re looking for an emulsion featuring safe ingredients,” she says. “This is why we have a robust quality assurance program that looks into providing solutions to various product development concerns as well as managing third-party testing.”
Beyond quality, manufacturers are seeking customizable options that meet their concerns and those of the end consumers, says Mark Elfenbein, chief revenue officer, Socati Corp, Austin, TX. “Typically product developers are looking for two things: the ability to customize the minor cannabinoid ratios such that they can ensure a specific quantity of any specific cannabinoid for purposes of addressing a use case such as relaxation, (and) the ability to integrate other functional ingredients such as chamomile, valerian root, vitamin C, vitamin D, etc., for addressing specific use cases to the end consumer,” he says.
Over the last year, suppliers have introduced offerings of minor cannabinoids such as cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabichromene (CBC). Last spring, OBX partnered with Prinova to produce a collection of patented water-soluble cannabinoid ingredients, including Hydrobond CBD, Hydrobond CBG, Hydrobond CBN and Hydrobond CBC.
The HydroBond water-soluble collection uses Prinova’s patent-pending manufacturing process to optimize cannabinoid delivery in powder and liquid food and beverage applications. Hydrobond is produced with high-purity raw material from Open Book Extracts, which improves the overall sensory characteristics of the ingredients.
Brown added interest in tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) has also been growing. “THCV is a highly sought after cannabinoid due to its potential to suppress appetite, making THCV-dominant products ideal for weight management,” she says. “THCV also has the potential to increase energy and focus. Our Stay In Focus formulations blend THCV with adaptogens, energizing herbs, and vitamins to provide clean energy that promotes mental sharpness, concentration, and improved brain function.”
Given cannabis oil’s hydrophobic nature, water solubility is also a top concern among developers. They require technologies that allow them to provide safe, stable, and homogenous products, and in some cases, mask any off cannabis flavors.
“Because the extraction is an oil, it is tough for producers to integrate into food and beverage products homogeneously with accurate dosing,” Wamsley says. “Water-soluble emulsion technology is designed for product developers to provide consumers with a better, more consistent experience. Producers appreciate the seamless integration into their process and the ability to scale quickly.”
In October 2020, SōRSE introduced its Clear emulsion technology, which features a limited sensory profile. That makes it ideal for beverages, particularly still and sparkling waters.
“I’m excited that SoRSE Clear is now part of our core portfolio,” Wamsley says. “It gives formulators and product developers the ability to innovate and to cater to the needs of customers within the global food and beverage market. With that, our customers who have already tried it are really excited about their terrific products maintaining the same clarity as before they were infused, but most of all, they’re excited about the minimal sensory effect from cannabinoids.”
Mirroring trends in the mainstream food and beverage industry, cannabis ingredient suppliers are also pursuing organic certifications for their offerings to provide assurance of safety and quality to developers and consumers.
Last year, the Montana State Department of Agriculture awarded Socati USDA Organic certification for its cannabidiol (CBD) products.
“USDA organic became increasingly important to Socati as a means to offer greater supply chain transparency, which has really become important during the pandemic (as) customers want to know exactly where their food is coming from and how it is made,” Elfenbein said. “The USDA seal is a very recognizable seal of approval at the consumer level and helps to ensure trust.”
With the support of ingredient suppliers and quality formulations, the future is bright for the cannabis food and beverage market.
“As the infused food and beverage continues to mature, so do the consumers of these products,” Wamsley says. “What we are looking forward to is the next round of innovative infused products, and the backbone of them will be custom emulsion formulations.”
Clear Emulsion Technology
Company: SōRSE Technology | Website: www.sorsetech.com
Hemp-Derived CBN Isolate
Company: Open Book Extracts | Website: www.openbookextracts.com
Terpology by Dr. Ethan Russo Terpene Blends
Company: True Terpenes | Website: www.bigpetestreats.com
Cannabis Hybrid Terpenes
Company: Lab Effects | Website: www.labeffects.com
NanoLyte Water-Soluble CBD
Company: Beneficial Blends | Website: www.beneficialblends.com
Cannabis-Inspired Flavors and Fragrances
Company: Bell Flavors & Fragrances | Website: www.bellff.com
Functional Flavor Blends
Company: Abstrax Tech | Website: www.abstraxtech.com
FreshWater Soluble CBD
Company: Mile High Labs | Website: www.milehighlabs.com
Broad-Spectrum Stalk and Seed Hemp Oil
Company: Folium Biosciences | Website: www.foliumbiosciences.com