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Innovating with CBD in beverage applications.jpg

Innovating with CBD in beverage applications

From taste concerns to insolubility, formulating with CBD can be difficult. However, some water, coffee, juice and energy drinks are among the successful products.

Despite the legal grey area surrounding CBD, a plethora of products are on the market ranging from cold-brew coffee to hot sauce.

CBD-enhanced beverages

Water is one of the most common delivery methods of CBD. According to Data Intelligence, the CBD water market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 26.9% globally through 2026 with most of the growth coming from North America. Products in the category include still drinking waters like Flow Glow and CBD Living, flavored still waters like Endowater and OKI, and flavored sparkling waters like Weller and Daytrip.

Other categories with CBD-enhanced products include energy drinks, sports nutrition, juice and carbonated soft drinks (CSDs).

CBD taste solutions

Though the food and beverage market is becoming increasingly saturated with hemp and CBD products, the taste and efficacy of products ranges significantly. CBD is very bitter on its own, so product developers need to screen suppliers for cleaner-tasting ingredients and/or use a masking system for a product to be palatable.

Another solution to taste is citrus-derived CBD. These ingredients are bioidentical to hemp and cannabis-derived CBD and they come in powder and liquid form. They perform well in beverages and are suggested to have a cleaner taste than traditional CBDs because they don’t have the terpenes and other chemicals that tend to give hemp-derived sources a cannabis-like taste. However, they tend to be more expensive and are still a legal grey area as a CBD ingredient.

Other formulation considerations

In addition to taste concerns, traditional CBD is an oil-based cannabinoid, which means it is insoluble in water and needs to be transformed into another format, such as an emulsion or powder, to be used in aqueous products. Many brands utilize nano-emulsion as a delivery system for CBD. Nano-emulsions are similar to typical oil-in-water emulsions commonly used to deliver flavors and other oil-based functionals in beverages, except the particle size is 10 to 100 times smaller. In addition to improving stability in beverages, studies suggest the smaller particle size of nano-emulsions may also improve bioavailability of CBD, though exploration of the topic is still in its infancy and more research needs to be done.

To read this article in its entirety, check out the CBD in functional foods – digital magazine.

Holly McHugh is the marketing associate at Imbibe, a Chicago-based beverage development company. She focuses on the company's external communications and brand awareness. She also monitors and analyzes beverage trends to guide clients in making strategic decisions about product development.

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