- A study conducted by High Yield Insights, a market research firm focused on the cannabis market, found that 40% of U.S. consumers age 21 and older would try CBD.
- The study surveyed 2,000 adults in total, and 1,500 reported using CBD products in the previous three months. For the surveyed consumers who expressed interest in CBD, 64% are 35 or older, 56% are female and 79% have college experience.
- Of those surveyed, ease of access and unbiased research on the substance were the primary motivators that enticed consumers to try CBD.
After decades of being dismissed or regarded warily by consumers, cannabis is now poised to upend the food and restaurant industry. Hemp, from which CBD is extracted, was declassified as a controlled substance by the federal government in the 2018 Farm Bill.
The substance has already made inroads into the food and beverage segments. Some restaurants are already infusing food with CBD, like Illegal Burger's parent company. West Coast Ventures Group is testing cannabis infusion technology, called CannaStix, that liquefies during the cooking process to permeate foods of all kinds from the inside out.
The ingredient has been hailed as the future of trendy cuisine, with 77% of the 650 chefs surveyed for the National Restaurant Association's culinary trend report projecting that CBD-infused beverages would be a leading food trend this year. Seventy-six percent of those chefs also named CBD-infused foods as the second most popular trend in the restaurant space.
Chains have already begun to take advantage. Last fall, vegan fast casual restaurant by Chloe launched a menu of CBD-infused snacks and desserts. Manhatten-based Mamacha gains about 50% of their revenue from CBD beverages.
But even though the Brightfield Group predicts that the hemp and CBD market could reach $22 billion by 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says CBD in food and drink is still technically illegal. A string of U.S. cities have cracked down on distribution of CBD-infused foods — leaving restaurants in the lurch.
Just before he announced his resignation earlier this month, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the federal government needs to work on developing regulatory pathways to get CBD to market. He told a U.S. House subcommittee that FDA would set a hearing to begin the conversation about regulating the substance sometime in April, but no date has been announced yet. Until then, restaurants are faced with a difficult choice: innovate with CBD to stay ahead of the trend and risk future backlash from city health departments, or stay on the sidelines and risk losing coveted market share.