What We Learned at Natural Products Expo West 2019

Natural Products Expo West 2019 is over, and we had a fantastic time. We had the pleasure of meeting several CBD exhibitors and learning from several prominent members in the industry. After our week, we have several CBD-related highlights from the expo. Our biggest takeaway was this: there is still a great need for consumer information and education. Since this is our goal, we are more motivated than ever to provide all the information consumers need to make informed, smart buying decisions.

Table of Contents

  1. CBD and Hemp are the Darlings of Natural Products
  2. Need for Consumer Information
  3. Legislation and Regulation are Needed
  4. Transparency and Testing are Crucial
  5. The Future is Full Spectrum, Not Isolate
  6. Meeting the Exhibitors

CBD and Hemp are the Darlings of Natural Products

This was not a CBD expo.

This was an expo for natural products.

However, that did not stop the cannabinoid and hemp from stealing the show.

Nine seminars featured CBD and hemp to some extent, with six solely dedicated to one or the other.

Conversations about the two were nearly inescapable among attendees.

CBD and hemp exhibitors were everywhere.

So, it was no surprise that the cannabinoid was named one of the top trends at the expo by Food Business News.

This gives credence to the impressive market projections for CBD, like the recently released Cowen report that states the industry could be worth $16 billion by 2025.

This is considered a “conservative” estimate, both by Cowen and in light of other reports.

A more aggressive projection by Brightfield Group thinks the hemp-derived CBD market will reach $22 billion by 2022.

Whatever the reality will be, the CBD industry is expected to continue growing, and the expo was only further proof of that.

Need for Consumer Information

Probably the biggest takeaway we had from the expo was that consumers are in dire need of more information.

Unlike supplements like Vitamin C where consumers have a general knowledge of what it is and what it does, CBD is a relatively new compound to most people.

As a result, many people know little about the cannabinoid aside from its association with marijuana.

Speakers at the expo often took time to explain the basics of CBD, such as it doesn’t get you high, the differences between isolate and full spectrum products, and why hemp is not the same as marijuana.

The fact that this type of information was repeatedly mentioned during several of the seminars signaled the need to educate and inform the public about CBD.

It’s our mission to inform consumers so you can make the best possible choices for your individual needs, and after our experiences at the expo, we are even more committed to doing so.

Legislation and Regulation are Needed

In the same vein, the industry also needs clear legislation and regulation.

Although the 2018 Farm Bill fully legalized hemp, speakers noted that CBD-specific legislation is necessary to avoid future legal conflicts.

Conflicts have already arisen, such as in Maine, Ohio, and New York City where state officials have banned CBD products.

While these bans may not be legal, it indicates there is still confusion surrounding CBD.

A new regulatory framework from the FDA would help stop the chaos, but it may still take time until the agency allows for CBD food products, especially in the wake of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s resignation.

Besides clarifying the rules for CBD products and weeding out the bad actors, regulation could also open the industry to the opportunities available to other legitimate sectors.

One such opportunity would be in advertising.

Facebook and Google, for example, do not permit cannabis advertisements, making it difficult for CBD stores to effectively market their products.

Speakers urged attendees to contact their state representatives about pro-CBD legislation.

Transparency and Testing are Crucial

A couple of major themes at the expo for businesses were about operating with safety and integrity.

To preserve their integrity, businesses must always test their products, especially in these six areas: cannabinoid potency, residual solvents, heavy metals, pesticides, microbes, and terpenes.

After this testing is complete and the products are verifiably ready for consumption, companies should be transparent with their testing and provide documentation of third-party lab results.

Companies—and consumers—must do their homework and ask questions.

If a laboratory, farmer, brand, or any other entity in the supply chain is not willing to be transparent, it’s a sign that you should do business elsewhere.

Many of the speakers discussed how they personally vet businesses before working with them, such as requiring documentation or personally visiting the company’s facility.

The Future is Full Spectrum, Not Isolate

Industry influencers at the expo made it clear that full spectrum hemp extracts are here to stay.

CBD isolates, on the other hand, are going to be owned by big pharma.

For example, GW Pharmaceuticals is the creator of Epidiolex, the first CBD-based medication approved by the FDA, which contains 99% CBD.

Since CBD is used in this drug, it can no longer be considered a dietary supplement, unless it was marketed as such before the announcement of drug investigations.

This leaves businesses to operate in full spectrum hemp extracts.

Unfortunately, many companies do not see the big picture and are jumping on the CBD isolate train without realizing it will soon run out of track.

CBD isolate products have become popular because they contain no traces of THC, unlike full spectrum products, which include a small amount within the legal limit.

With no THC, it would be nearly impossible to fail a drug test, a legitimate concern for those in occupations that require drug testing.

However, big pharma is staking their claim on isolate, and when a regulatory framework is released for CBD, companies relying on isolate products will soon go out of business.

Meeting the Exhibitors

Our team had the opportunity to meet several of the dozens of CBD exhibitors at the expo.

Most notably, we got to see the great people from Receptra Naturals and CBDistillery.

Based in Colorado, Receptra is a unique company in that they use the hemp flower to derive the cannabinoids for their products, as opposed to the stalk and leaves.

The hemp flower is much richer in cannabinoid and terpene content than any other aspect of the plant, creating a genuinely full spectrum extract.

As a result, Receptra provides potent products of the utmost quality, along with third-party lab results to prove it.

CBDistillery is an industry powerhouse, outpacing Elixinol, Charlotte’s Web, and CV Sciences’ Plus CBD Oil in online sales for 2018.

With an impressive product line and full transparency to boot, CBDistillery is one of the best in the business.

Other exhibitors we talked with included Plus CBD Oil, Bluebird Botanicals, and RE Botanicals.

Plus CBD Oil is owned by CV Sciences and is one of the top-selling CBD brands, as is Bluebird Botanicals.

RE Botanicals is the first USDA-certified organic hemp CBD company in the US.

We didn’t get a chance to meet the team from Select CBD, but we were able to set up a test and review of their products.

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