Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 9
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BY NATALIE SHMULIK
Q: How do I tap in to the incredible edibles trend?
A: Chicago has legalized recreational
cannabis use - a highly anticipated
development that raises questions about
regulating hemp-derived cannabidiol
(C.B.D.) and tetrahydrocannabinol (T.H.C.)
and the future impact on American industries. Cannabidiol is the non-intoxicating
compound in cannabis, while T.H.C. is the
main psychoactive component that has,
until now, predominantly been allocated
for medicinal use. As states' regulations
become more inviting, emerging brands
are eagerly vying for a seat at the table.
But the question remains, how can cannabis products successfully enter the market
and gain consumers' trust?
The answers are more likely to be
found in food businesses than in pharmacies. With science working to optimize
its effects, the public will ultimately be
inclined to consume cannabis the way
they do most functional goods, by eating
and drinking. While cannabis products
are not classified as food and beverage, the
industry will be heavily influenced by food
and beverage practices. At the incubation
level, food entrepreneurs are launching or planning to launch a range of
Natalie Shmulik is the chief executive
officer of The Hatchery Chicago, a food
and beverage incubator.
January 7, 2020
cannabis-infused and enhanced products.
"This is the fastest growing industry
in the country," said Jason Erkes, chief
communications officer at Cresco, a
cannabis and medical marijuana lab and
retailer based in Chicago.
The company envisions infused foods
and beverages sharing shelf space with
regular consumer packaged goods.
"Consistently dosed edibles will be
and C.B.D. products, understands the importance of transparency. As the founder
of Enjoy Life Foods, a leader in gluten-free
and allergy-friendly products, he helped
create the "free from" food niche that resonates so deeply with consumers.
Now, Mr. Mandell has turned his
expertise to cannabis, an industry rife
with quality control problems. At the
Food and Drug Administration's 2019
For entrepreneurs eager to launch a cannabis
product, the main takeaway from first movers
is don't wait for regulation to do it right.
a core driver of this industry," Mr. Erkes
said, and manufacturers must nail down
their products' quality, effectiveness and
Potential roadblocks include state-bystate regulation and cannabis' status as a
Schedule 1 controlled substance. Products
containing T.H.C. and C.B.D. are illegal
at the federal level, and many regulators
and consumers consider cannabis to be
a potent medicinal substance. However,
as Americans' perception of cannabis
continues to evolve and normalize, so will
regulation. As cannabis adoption accelerates, lessons from the food and beverage
space can help find its legal and commercial footing.
Food and beverage standards can
inform cannabis entrepreneurs on how to
avoid foodborne illnesses and apply best
practices in additive use, manufacturing,
consumer education and trends. These
factors converge on the most influential
food trend of all: transparency.
Scott Mandell, president of Cannabistry, an R.&D. firm working to refine T.H.C.
public hearing, consumer researchers
at the Clean Label Project found traces
of heavy metals and pesticides in many
To combat the issue, "free from is
terminology we're going to bring to the
cannabis space," Mr. Mandell said. Clean
sourcing, good manufacturing practices
and in-house operating procedures are
essential to ensuring a rigorous supply
chain and creating high-quality products
and gaining consumers' trust.
"All food, whether infused or virgin,
should be safe for consumers and manufactured in a controlled environment regardless of existing regulations," he said.
While getting into a multi-billion-dollar industry with significant room
to grow is exciting, "there are no shortcuts," Mr. Mandell said. For entrepreneurs
eager to launch a cannabis product, the
main takeaway from industry first movers
and the incubator space is: Don't wait for
regulation to do it right. Apply food and
beverage industry lessons from source to
sale, and aim high. ▪
Food Business News
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020
Food Entrepreneur gives vibrant start-up community its own stage
Peter Rahal’s Next Venture
Into the "Cannabyss"
Inside the Incubator Village
Lisa Curtis Founder and chief executive officer of Kuli Kuli
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 2
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Food Entrepreneur gives vibrant start-up community its own stage
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Peter Rahal’s Next Venture
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 5
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 6
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 7
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 8
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Into the "Cannabyss"
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Inside the Incubator Village
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 11
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 12
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - Lisa Curtis Founder and chief executive officer of Kuli Kuli
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 14
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - News
Food Entrepreneur - January 7, 2020 - 16