The future’s looking green: Hemp innovation thrives at ISM in Cologne

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30 Jan 2019 --- Green was a salient color among the candy presented at this year's sweet and snack trade fair, ISM 2019, held in Cologne, Germany. As the cannabis plant and its derivatives, namely hemp and cannabidiol (CBD), have enjoyed an increasingly normalized reputation and popularity among consumers, continuing investment in the well-known plant is highly anticipated for 2019.

Stand-out innovations came from Swiss, family-owned company Roelli Roelli Confectionery with its CBD chewing gum and lozenges, and Katjes Fassin, with its Hemptastic Hemp bars. These products scooped second (Katjes) and third (Roelli Roelli) place in the ISM confectionery awards, which “pay tribute to exceptional services to the confectionery and snack item industry.”

“Calming” CBD chews
To many consumers, CBD holds particular appeal due to its natural origin and its touted benefits of improving mood, relieving anxiety, insomnia and joint and muscle ache. However, it has become increasingly common for products on the market to contain less CBD than specified on the label, Maruchy Lachance, Co-Founder and COO of Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Laboratory, previously told NutritionInsight.Click to Enlarge

“Following publicity around CBD’s clinical effectiveness in treating certain illnesses, increased statutory legalization of cannabis across many US states and positive word-of-mouth about the ‘non-psychoactive cousin’ of marijuana, interest was piqued. As interest increased, interested consumers dug deeper through internet searches, shared information with and from friends on social media, and sought out sources of legal CBD. Due to the incredible therapeutic benefits of CBD, use exploded, and a major trend was born and continues to accelerate,” Lachance explains.

Roelli Roelli’s Swiss Cannabis chewing gum and lozenges pack a punch of 5mg per piece.

Speaking to NutritionInsight at the show, Andreas Roelli, Co-Founder of Roelli Roelli Confectionery, notes that getting a substantial amount of CBD into the product is essential to the company, commenting that “it’s not just hemp seed oil without any effect.”

However, working around the regulatory gray area that surrounds the use of cannabis-derivatives in much of the EU presented some uncertainty. The company overcame this challenge and reached legality all over the EU, including the UK, making it the first company to do so – legally, he notes. 

“It was a tricky issue. We wanted a substantial amount of CBD, but if you want to sell it legally, you must eliminate all THC. However, even with CBD, there are close restrictions. We are lucky to have found a way to legalize the product, even with a substantial amount of CBD,” says Roelli.

“Swiss Cannabis Gum was developed over a long period in contact with experts and the relevant authorities. At the end of this process, a study on the safety and suitability for commercial sale of the product was prepared by state-certified experts. This assessment applies to Switzerland and all countries in the EU,” the company explains in a statement.

The range has been on the market in Switzerland for seven months, Germany for five months and it is soon to hit shelves in the UK. Although the company largely does private label for retailers, this range is a branded product.Click to EnlargeAndreas Roelli, Co-Founded Roelli Roelli Confectionery with his brother 22 years ago.

Earlier this month, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced that it is seeking to ban the sale of CBD oil in the UK market which may hinder the growth of the burgeoning CBD scene. The agency notes that this increasingly popular wellness supplement should be deemed a novel food and must, therefore, go through the appropriate authorization channels, which could take between 12 to 18 months, before being offered to the public. 

“Food operators have been unable to demonstrate a significant history of consumption of Cannabidiol (CBD) extracts in food supplements and food prior to May 1997 in any Member State of the EU,” an FSA spokesperson tells NutritionInsight. “As a result, under the Novel Food Regulations, these extracts are all regarded as novel foods and must be authorized before they can be placed on the market.”

A second launch at ISM, this time focused on hemp, came from Katjes Fassin, with the company Hemptastic Hemp Bar’s which will be available from May 2019.

“We have created a delicious combination of tasty food and fancy flavors, packed with super ingredients and over 20 percent raw hemp seeds,” says a company statement.

The bars will come in three flavors:

  • Cocoa & Almonds: Crispy cocoa-nibs and crunchy almonds.
  • Cashew & Coconut: Packed with cashews, almonds and coconut.
  • Cranberry & Goji.

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. 

Click to EnlargeCereal and energy bars (24 percent average annual growth) was the top growing sub-category of new US food & beverage launches containing hemp (2013-2017).

The US accounts for most of the NPD in this area, according to the market researcher. Its data reveal that of the global food & beverages and supplement product launches featuring CBD in 2018, the US accounts for 76 percent of launches. The US is also where 33 states have so-far legalized the use of cannabis for medical reasons in some form. 

The nation has also, significantly, reformed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which originally designated all forms of marijuana and its constituents as illegal drugs. The move, which came as part of the farm bill announced on December 20 last year, legalizes hemp – which is made distinctive from marijuana by declaring that hemp is defined as something with less than 0.3 percent Δ9-THC. This amount of THC, the psychoactive component of the plant, is so minimal that it is certain that its ingestion will spur no “high.” 

Hulled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein and hemp seed oil were also certified with Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status.

These developments, alongside Canada’s recent legalization of recreational cannabis, has positioned North America as a region ripe for further NPD. However, as the reputation of CBD and hemp continues to expand, this will be a trend with hard-hitting global reach – as the investment on show at ISM has also indicated. 

By Laxmi Haigh, with additional reporting by Robin Wyers

To contact our editorial team please email us at

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