The global cannabis-based beverages market is forecasted to reach USD 5.04 billion by 2020, according to a report by Reports and Data. The primary driver for this market-expansion of cannabis-based beverages is the expanding legalization of marijuana in the U.S., particularly for recreational purposes.

But apart from the legalization, there has been an increase in the use of cannabis in treating health conditions like neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders, cancer and pain control. Consumers are also seeking out beverages with wellness benefits. Cannabis-based beverages tend to contain clean ingredients and low sugar content, adding to their appeal to health-conscious consumers.

Not surprisingly, large beverage companies have been among the first movers in developing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) infused drinks. Beer companies, confronting a five-year decline in U.S. beer consumption, have been the most aggressive.

That said, regulation around the use and marketing of CBD in food and beverage products is still in question. In order to protect the public health but also to inform the regulatory pathway for the lawful marketing of appropriate cannabis and cannabis-derived products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), held public hearings on May 31, 2019, and opened a docket for public comment through July 16, 2019.

In today’s patchwork legislative environment for cannabis, it can seem as if there as many different ways to package and label cannabis as there are actual products themselves. Each state has its own set of rules – so what may work in Colorado may not work in California.

To help simplify matters, particularly for new cannabis products – such as cannabis beverages – the Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulation in collaboration with the National Cannabis Industry Association put together a document on Cannabis Packaging and Labeling outlining a series of best practices in packaging and labeling for cannabis products. While the goal of the document is to encourage greater consistency and judiciousness in cannabis rulemaking among state regulators, the document does include practical tips and suggestions for cannabis processors.

The recommendations are practical in nature and start with making sure the font and type size on the label is uniform and is like what consumers now see on packaged foods. And while companies have wide latitude in developing unique brand names, the recommendation is that they should always use the common or usual name of the product – “cannabis” – clearly on the package.

The best practice recommendation is that the cannabis industry should follow the lead of the dietary supplement industry when it comes to clearly defining what their product is and its use. The guidelines also suggest printing on the label the name, phone number and email address of the licensee that produced or dispensed the finished product. This simple idea is rooted in common sense – if consumers have product complaints or inquiries, they should know whom to contact.

Other recommendations have to do with including track and trace details, ingredient list, allergen labeling, nutrition facts and a specific cannabis facts panel. Sooner or later, more regulation is coming to the cannabis industry, and this roadmap is designed to help regulators, lawmakers and industry players recognize overall best practices.

In addition, the two organizations developed a list of five different common-sense packaging recommendations. For example, who could argue that cannabis packaging should be child-resistant? Or that packaging should be opaque rather than transparent so that children and young minors cannot see the contents?

If you are thinking about bringing new cannabis drinks to market, it is worth considering the importance of packaging and labeling not only to the marketing of your product but to meeting new regulations and ensuring the health and safety of consumers.

To help you sort through the many packaging options, no event in North America this year will match the size and scope of cannabis packaging technologies and innovations for the cannabis beverage market presented at PACK EXPO Las Vegas and the co-located Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2019 (Sept. 23-25; Las Vegas Convention Center). More than 30,000 attendees will convene over 900,000 net square feet of exhibit space showcasing the newest machinery, materials and container solutions displayed by over 2,000 exhibitors.

The new PACKage Printing Pavilion will focus on the advantages of digital printing showcasing the latest in cost-effective solutions for smart, short-run, on-demand, cost-effective, variable data and personalized packaging. Free, 30-minute free seminars focused on new and innovative technologies presented by the experts, will be happening throughout the show on the Innovation Stage.

 

Special complimentary registration, which includes access to both PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO, is available by using promo code: TRYVEGAS. This is a $100 savings. For more information and to register online, visit packexpointernational.com.

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