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CBD-infused foods tipped for US culinary success in 2019

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2019-01-15  Views: 12
Core Tip: lant-based ingredients, including cannabis and Cannabidiol (CBD) ingredients are tipped to be one the hottest overall US culinary trends of 2019, alongside zero waste, new research from the National Restaurant Association has revealed.
Plant-based ingredients, including cannabis and Cannabidiol (CBD) ingredients are tipped to be one the hottest overall US culinary trends of 2019, alongside zero waste, new research from the National Restaurant Association has revealed.

According to the Association’s 2019 What’s Hot Culinary Survey, a barometer of US food and beverage trends, 650 professional chefs – all members of the American Culinary Federation – said that infusing food and drink with cannabis and CBD could create unique cuisine opportunities and new markets for experiential dining occasions.

2018 saw huge regulatory gains for cannabis and its derived products, including hemp and CBD, with a host of US states and Canada and, very recently the UK, legalizing the use of medical marijuana in some forms. But now, we can expect to see more of this available to consumers as part of a culinary and dining experience.

Seventy-seven percent of the survey’s respondents identified cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as the number 1 culinary trend. Additionally, 76 percent of those tapped cannabis/CBD-infused food as the second most popular trend in dining.

However, as chefs and restaurateurs consider incorporating the ingredients into menu items, Association officials urge that the industry take heed of the fact that cannabis and CBD are federally controlled substances and laws governing their use vary from state to state. They commented: “Operators are urged to follow all laws, including applicable federal, state and local laws that apply when selling or using those items at their restaurants.”

Third on this year’s list of overall trends is zero-waste cooking, which calls for chefs and restaurateurs to reduce the amount of food waste created during the preparation of menu items to prevent it from ending up in landfills. The chefs said zero waste could be achieved through nose-to-tail cooking, incorporating “ugly” produce into menu items and recycling or composting, among other things, the survey found.

“Zero-waste cooking is a sign of the times,” notes Hudson Riehle, the Association’s Senior Vice President of Research. “Millennial and Gen Z customers, in particular, expect the restaurants they visit to be more eco-friendly. So sustainability is high on their list. It’s also good for business. Not only is food waste reduction more cost-effective, but it also creates brand loyalty and helps protect the planet. It’s a big win for everyone.”

Additionally, a string of regulatory green lights have begun to move the cannabis plant and cannabis-derived products into an increasingly mainstream track. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has signaled a softened stance on cannabis-derived products with its most recent move being to legalize hemp and CBD derived from hemp. Such developments are exciting for the innovation front of food and drink products that contain cannabis-derived compounds.

Interest in hemp-based foods is starting to gain traction, as start-ups look to obtain funding for innovative application ventures. Innova Market Insights reports 34 percent average annual growth in the number of new food & beverage launches with hemp ingredients (global, 2013-2017), with US introductions enjoying an average annual growth of 21 percent over this period, amid a friendlier regulatory environment. Cereal & energy bars (24 percent average annual growth) was the top growing sub-category of new US food & beverage launches containing hemp (2013-2017).

Innovation is now increasing in diverse applications too. For example, Gabriella’s Kitchen (GK), a lifestyle company focused on better-for-you foods, infused with ingredients including cannabis and hemp extracts, recently closed an upsized offering of units for total gross proceeds of US$6.2 million. Known for its skinnypasta, gabbypasta and noodi brands, GK added a fourth brand last year, alto, to represent its cannabis- and hemp-infused products – creating the cannabis sector’s first “savory and nutritionally dense THC- and CBD-infused edibles brand.” With the completion of the financing, the company is primed to rapidly fill the pent-up demand for THC and CBD-infused savory, nutritional products with its unique alto line.
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