SupplySide West: 5 key questions for the CBD supplier evaluation process | Food Dive
Today’s consumers can find CBD in countless products: infused water, soda, alcoholic beverage alternatives, gummies, mints, any more cropping up daily.
Big brands are taking note and developing their own strategy around CBD-infused products. But any brand or company can be a part of the CBD market with the right resources and guidance. Fortunately, for those interested in producing a new product, there is technology available today that removes the typical setbacks of cannabinoid products.
Today, water-soluble emulsion technology enables even dispersion through the finished product which allows for a positive and consistent edibles experience for the consumer. Consumers demand better-tasting products with predictable onset and near-perfect dosing – And now they can get it, without additional sugars to mask the cannabis taste. Overall, the consumer’s experience is improved and more consistent from consumption to their sensory experience.
One of the most important steps that anyone can take as they move towards developing a CBD-infused product is to find and consult with the best possible supplier.
How to Find - and Choose - your CBD Supplier
First, identify possible suppliers that you can begin talking to about product options and quality. Many product developers think the best way to find a supplier is through a cannabis-centric event; however, oftentimes the more established and science-based suppliers will be at beverage and ingredient events. Check out SupplySide West, ExpoWest, and BevNET Live - among others. A CBD supplier cannot fake it in a room full of food and beverage product development professionals. A CBD supplier that isn’t taking a food science approach to developing a beverage simply won’t be able to provide you with the required information to ensure a safe and quality product.
Once you are in touch with a possible supplier, it’s important to walk into any meeting or discussion with good background information. If you are prepared with some understanding of CBD and the market, you’ll be able to ask the questions needed to determine if it’s a good fit. Below are key questions and context that will help you make the right choice:
1. Stability: What is stability/shelf life of the emulsion as a stand-alone and in a finished product?
Currently, the highest quality water-soluble emulsion is meeting (and exceeding) food-grade stability testing up to 12 months.
What to confirm:
- Real-time data: The supplier should provide at least 12 months of real-time stability data for their product, as well as any finished products.
2. Testing: Does your supplier have third-party testing results to confirm the quality of their product?
What to confirm:
- Request that suppliers provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from a third-party testing facility to confirm quality.
- Verify that the COA is through a third-party, not conducted internally.
- Never work with a supplier who can’t provide any COA.
3. Food-Grade Quality & Safety: What processes have you implemented to maintain food-grade quality and safety?
Since the CBD space is still in its adolescence, it’s important to ensure that the CBD supplier is compliant with all FDA regulations and applying a ‘food science perspective’ to the production procedures. Suppliers who are not taking necessary precautions can be problematic for the longevity, scalability, and success of a brand.
What to confirm:
- Confirm the supplier can provide all requisite quality documentation. This includes, but is not limited to, COAs, allergen statements, regulatory compliance, third-party audits, etc.
- A supplier’s facility should be CPMG / FSMA compliant. This is separate and in addition to the product’s food-grade rating.
4. Seamless Integration & Packaging: When does dosing take place in the production process and is there specific packaging required to maximize the shelf-life of the product?
Today, there are emulsion technologies available that allow small and large batch dosing with seamless integration.
- Determine whether a supplier’s emulsion requires major disruption to existing manufacturing and packaging procedures.
- Ask if the supplier has technical team members who can work with you directly to develop the best approach to dosing and product development.
- Packaging does matter and some are better than others for water-soluble emulsion technology in finished goods. Ask about their experience - the successes, as well as the failures.
5. Offerings & Associated Taste & Smell: There’s hype around all forms of CBD – CBD Isolate, Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum – How do I know which is best for my product?
Each CBD form impacts the taste, smell, and texture of the finished product. These forms can impact the added ingredients, mainly sugar and flavor additives, and overall nutrition of the finished product.
- Confirm the suppliers can achieve the desired flavor profile (with or without CBD flavor and aroma presence)