UK CBD company Goodrays specialises in a range of food and drink products – with the aim of educating the consumer and bringing CBD into the mainstream.
Founder and CEO of Goodrays, Eoin Keenan, has been in the cannabis and CBD industry since its fruition. Studying Drug Policy at Trinity University, Dublin, and using CBD and cannabis as anxiety and stress relievers Eion says he has long been an advocate for the plant’s use.
Keenan left a job in a tech business and headed for Canada and California to better understand the cannabis market, working with cultivators and manufacturers.
“I was really interested in the space and helping to pursue policy but, also to see if we could bring this to the masses and actually change the legislation,” said Keenan.
“They really took me under their wing – what they taught me from a commercial standpoint was that the three areas of growth were in the ancillary services, in innovation and how we deliver cannabinoids and, on the brand side.
“How do we actually build brands that people can connect with, people can get educated from and that also can get really strong distribution and strong products as well?”
The beginnings of the UK CBD industry
Eoin returned to the UK with this knowledge in 2015 when there was a very limited industry in the country. He began helping to build the industry – including analysis company Prohibition Partners, and one of Europe’s most well-known B2B cannabis platforms Cannabis Europa.
Keenan commented: “I wanted to help bring together industry leaders from business and from pharmaceuticals, but also political leaders to help advance legislation. But, I think the dream was always moving to the consumer side – bringing CBD and good quality products to the masses was always a vision.
“I wanted to take it mainstream, put it on to grocery stores, marketplaces, distribution points from airlines and retail.”
A key aspect of bringing quality CBD products into the mainstream, says Keenan, was also centred around educating the consumer.
“I was really good at educating people on simple questions around CBD and educating people on what they need, what dose they need, what they should expect, the brand and what should they should look for in products,” he said.
“It has been pretty fun and we’ve now got a full range from CBD drops to CBD gummies to CBD drinks. They fit into different needs states, whether it’s middle of the day relaxation, mid-afternoon functional drinks or evening time. They are really positioned around relaxation and anti-stress, which, for me is the most interesting and the most relevant part of CBD – but also commercially the biggest opportunity.”
Keenan, who is also very interested in cannabis cultivation, says watching the industry develop in the UK has been fascinating. He highlights that cultivation and manufacturing saw a huge amount of investment in the beginning when the market had few serious brands.
“Now, of course, there are really great brands that exist,” he said. “However, at the end where consumers were interacting with CBD – there wasn’t a mass there. Early on, I could see that it was a gap in the market and, for me, it’s the most valuable part of the market.
“Budweiser doesn’t own hop farms – they own the brand – and I think that’s probably the most long-term valuable piece, as well as having good distribution, a loyal community and a loyal consumer base and the infrastructure to scale up.
“We’re not interested in being a vertical supply chain, we’re interested in being a specialist brand.”
The UK CBD industry now
Eoin highlights that the Novel Foods process has catalysed the industry – removing, he says, non-compliant products from the shelves.
He commented: “It has been really difficult for smaller brands because of the expenses but also because of the uncertainty. It’s very difficult for small brands to raise capital amongst that uncertainty, and to secure distribution amongst that uncertainty as well. It’s a really difficult position for small brands to be in if you don’t have serious financial backing to survive.
“But I think ultimately, for consumers, it’s probably a good thing to have increased regulation. It just probably hasn’t occurred the way most people would have wanted it to occur. These things take time and they’re difficult to do right. So it’s, it’s to be expected that it is a lengthy process at the same time.
Keenan says the UK has become an interesting CBD market, and that looking at the global markets, the US and the UK tend to be the most innovative food and drink markets.
“We tend to be very much on the cutting edge of innovation and also I think the UK population, particularly London-centric and urban centres tend to be quite stressed out,” said Keenan. “So, they’re looking for these kinds of wellness solutions. So, I think it’s become an interesting market and we find European partners looking to the UK for innovation as well.
“Despite all the regulatory changes, it’s become a real hotspot of innovation.”
Eoin says the UK CBD industry is heading in a positive direction, with regulation, research and compliance contributing to a boost for investment back into CBD.
“It will give a boost to retailers to jump in on this and start stocking it. This is something that’s going fully mainstream – by the end of this year, every big grocer will stock it. Everyone should have access to CBD either at the click of a button, or within 5 to 15 minutes of their house. So, I think that’s quite exciting for this year.
“Long term, the reality is that the CBD market opens pathways for other cannabinoids as well, whether that be cannabinoids that are under current research and can help them with other solutions.
“For me, Goodrays is a passion project as much as it is a business, so I’m interested to see where it goes in five to 10 years’ time. And that’s why we educate people on the plant and why we want that full mainstream distribution.”
After closing its second funding round earlier this year for £2.5m, Goodrays will now be working to scale up the business. With products already featuring stores such as Selfridges and Amazon and a partnership with Anytime Fitness, the company expects to see increasing retail appearances in the coming year.
Tenacious Labs acquires CBD pet company Rover’s Wellness
The acquisition is part of Tenacious Labs buy-and-build strategy.
Tenacious Labs has diversified into the pet care market with the acquisition of Rover’s Wellness, which specialises in THC-free CBD.
The acquisition sees the group diversify into the high-growth pet care market for the first time. CBD pet care, according to Prohibition Partners, is expected to see global sales of products reach $424.4m (~£350.83) by 2024, representing a CAGR of 18.6 per cent.
As part of the acquisition, RaChelle Baca-Lobre will join Tenacious Labs as global director of sales – pet division and CPG wholesale and private label. Tenacious has stated that Baca-Lobre’s personal passion for CBD-enriched pet care, as well as her experience in managing a fast-growing brand, will prove invaluable for the Group as it looks to scale up its pet care division over the coming months.
CEO and co-founder of Tenacious Labs, Nicholas Morland, commented: “We are delighted to welcome RaChelle and her team to Tenacious Labs.
“Since launching in 2018, Rover’s Wellness has grown rapidly, launching genuinely market-leading products which have been well received by customers across the US. This acquisition will enable us to kick-start our pet care division, while combining RaChelle’s expertise and Tenacious Labs’ high quality manufacturing capabilities to significantly scale up Rover’s Wellness.
“We look forward to working with her closely over the coming months and years.
Tennessee-based Rover’s Wellness creates high quality products containing all natural, non-GMO ingredients including 100 per cent certified organically grown hemp. The company was founded by Baca-Lobre in 2018 after her own pet was diagnosed with cancer. Rover’s Wellness offers a range of oils, topical salves and treats which use CBD to support joint flexibility and mobility, ease anxiety and promote positive long-term health for dogs, cats and equine.
A core part of the brand’s approach is its commitment to testing and transparency. Leveraging a “seed to sale” approach, Rover’s Wellness works directly with growers and uses state-of-the-art nano technology to extract CBD before purity testing.
Each batch is tested by a certified industrial hemp laboratory, both before and after production, with all lab-results published on its website. This process ensures that none of Rover’s Wellness products contain THC – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis which is harmful to animals.
Baca-Lobre said: “I am excited to join Tenacious Labs, a group which reflects my desire to create safe, natural and quality products, underpinned by third-party laboratory testing.
“We have enjoyed great success to date, and I believe that by harnessing Tenacious Labs’ best-in-class manufacturing facilities, marketing expertise, and operational support, we can unlock more exciting growth opportunities for Rover’s Wellness and the group’s broader pet care division.”
Tenacious Labs has now completed three acquisitions since launching 12 months ago, including female-focused CBD brand Press Pause and high-quality white-label manufacturer SZM LLC — now operating as TL Manufacturing. The group has also continued to expand, now employing 35 people around the world as it looks to scale up.
SEED Innovations ramps up investment in South West Brands
The company has now invested a total of £500,000 in South West Brands.
SEED Innovations has invested a further £50,000 in CBD company South West Brands Limited.
Focusing on making investments in the medical cannabis, health and wellness spaces, Guernsey-based SEED Innovations made its last investment in South West Brands of £150,000 in 2021, bringing its toady investment in South West Brands to £450,000.
South West Brands, which recently saw its Botanic Lab drinks and supplements added to the UK Food Standard Agency list of CBD products permitted to stay on sale in England and Wales, has recently had two of its products listed in major UK retailers.
Its LoveMeMeMe brand is now stocked in Asos and its FEWE brand will be stocked in Superdrug from September.
CEO of SEED, Ed McDermott, commented: “We have seen some considerable progress made by the team at South West Brands over recent weeks with the launch of their two brands for sale in to Superdrug stores and online at ASOS.
“The products have received a fantastic reception by consumers in what is fast becoming a burgeoning FemTech sector where South West Brands are leading the charge.
“Generating early revenues, with the products now increasingly available, we anticipate seeing a fast uptick in wholesale sales which will further lead to additional product development and hopefully support for the products availability outside of the UK.
“We are pleased to continue to support Rebekah Hall and her team as they build a credible, sustainable and scalable wellness business developing and commercialising their brands.”
CEO of South West Brands, Rebekah Hall, said: “The progress SWB has made in the short time since launch is just the beginning of where we believe our brands can reach. In particular, we are at an exciting juncture in the provision of female wellness solutions with increased awareness infiltrating mainstream audiences and building commercial traction with mainstream retailers.
“With further funding in place, including the support from SEED, we look ahead to continued growth in the UK as well as commercial opportunities in other markets, including the US. “
The investment is by way of a three year, 8 per cent Convertible Loan Note (CLN), and SEED has agreed to convert £50,000 of the 12 month, 8 per cent CLN subscribed for in July 2021 into this three year, 8 per cent CLN.
B3 Labs discusses the future of the consumer cannabis industry
CEO of UK-based B3 Labs, Marc Burbidge, speaks to Cannabis Wealth about the UK’s Novel Foods process and shares his outlook for the future of the consumer cannabis industry.
B3 Labs recently had 525 of its products included on the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) CBD Novel Foods list.
The country’s move to be one of the first in the world with a regulated CBD market has seen companies wishing to sell their CBD products having to submit Novel Foods applications to ensure all products that go on sale are safe for human consumption.
B3 Labs has described the publication of the list as a landmark moment for the UK cannabis market, providing greater transparency and assurance over CBD products for both consumers and retailers.
B3 was founded by ex-Asda store manager Marc Burbidge, who left over 15 years of experience in the traditional FMCG sector to move to the fast-growing cannabis market. Marc set up B3 after suffering from severe shoulder pain and realising the side effects that came from taking traditional pain medication.
Since founding B3, which is currently based in Manchester, Burbidge has turned the business into Europe’s leading CBD manufacturer and the first of its kind to become BRCGS certified, producing a range of white-labelled CBD oils and gummies and driving change in the market by providing consumers and brands with greater assurance and transparency over the safety, transparency and quality of its CBD products.
Novel Foods in the UK
Burbidge says that the UK’s Novel Foods process is a major positive step for the industry as a whole, giving more confidence to retailers to open up conversations with companies.
“As more and more data comes to pass moving over to the validation phase, this is only going to legitimise CBD as a product,” said Burbidge. “We’re seeing more and more adoption from consumers all around the world as it is now.”
Whilst consumers have been quick to take up CBD, said Burbidge, retailers have fallen behind and will now have to keep up with regulatory changes.
“I really sympathise with the regulators for what they’ve had to go through over the last year. Novel Foods as a process is very much ingredient-led, as opposed to finished product-led, and the UK has taken more of an approach of a finished product-led way of working, which has obviously created a number of challenges for brands.
“At the same time, those challenges – overcoming them, getting the list out there, seeing the number of products and brands that are now able to really push forward in terms of their plans – it’s a fantastic thing.”
This development has been positive for B3 Labs, Burbidge highlighted, which is the first CBD company in Europe to gain a BRCGS certification for finished products.
Burbidge commented: “We see novel foods as a regulatory hurdle that everybody needs to go through. It means an awful lot to get through that hurdle, especially the first stage, but there’s still a long way to go. Currently, it’s ultimately it’s a list – there’s no validation or authorization yet.
“For us, we focus on product safety and product quality. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll see more of a cannabis-related certification for everybody that won’t just encompass food but also the vape industry and the cosmetics industry, for example.
“Novel Foods really did change the mindset of people to legitimise CBD and that’s always been my mission – the legitimisation of CBD and cannabis as a widely consumed product. By having something like Novel Foods, by having a food certification and by businesses having to reach those quality standards, people believe in the product a lot more, whether it be the retailer or the consumer.
“Everybody talks about vertical integration in cannabis but vertical integration of regulatory steps and compliance in cannabis is equally as important.”
The future of the industry
The rise of the cannabis and CBD industry is harkening back to the days of herbal medicine, said Burbidge, who has been studying herbal medicine for many years.
However, Burbidge highlights that for the industry to progress, innovation is a key element, and Novel Foods may play a part in hampering this innovation.
“We’ve seen a tincture market has grown out of CBD, oil-based tinctures. It’s going back to making herbal medicine products and using dropper bottles in the early 1900s, which is great,” said Burbidge. “It’s really good to see that unique application from coming back and you’re seeing it more and more with other kinds of herbal wellness products that are coming out.
“We are seeing less innovation now because of Novel Foods because of what we are and aren’t allowed to do in terms of bringing new finished products onto the market. I think once we reach validation, and ultimately authorization of products, the product categories will begin to change more.”
The market will move more towards products that are familiar to people such as tablets, lozenges and slow-release formulas, said Burbidge, with a focus on aspects such as bioavailability.
“Drinks have been a major growth sector, tinctures are another major growth sector and the biggest growth sector has probably been gummies as it is easy for people to use these.
“We need to get to full authorization of products before we can really start innovating new exciting products. But I do see that’s where it’ll eventually go.”
Whilst the UK has been very slow to adopt both medical and recreational cannabis, Burbidge says that as more patients find the benefit of using medicinal cannabis there will be more discussion around the benefits of CBD.
“I think we’re seeing more and more people – whether they’re taking certain pain relief medications that might be more addictive or costly – getting cannabis privately prescribed,” said Burbidge. “I think you’ll see people looking to get more medical products and this is similar to Novel Foods regarding generating data.”
Pointing to more mature medical and recreational markets such as Canada and Israel, Burbidge notes that the benefits of cannabis are becoming more evident through the reduction in the use of medications such as morphine.
“People seem to be getting more quality of life based on just the verbal data,” said Burbidge. “And it’s really good to see as far as recreational is concerned. I don’t think that’s anything close to an agenda point as yet for a discussion, but once the safety of cannabis is more established, and it’s used more as a medicinal product, I think I think we might get there.”
The future of B3 Labs: an engine room of innovation
B3 Labs has been focusing on compliance through the Novel Foods process, but the lab will be an “engine room of innovation”, said Burbidge, and the company will be focusing on areas outside of CBD as interest in herbal medicine rises.
“The reason that B3 was created was all around innovation. We’re looking at building partnerships with equally as compliant manufacturers as ourselves to widen our brand’s portfolios, building a wide network of companies that we can work with to develop and create amazing products for the future and eventually build an engine room of innovation with wonderful ideas, ways of working, methodologies and applications of products.
“CBD and cannabis are, and have always been, a huge part of my life. But there are so many other compounds that are out there which provide benefits to people. We’ve seen a huge rise in awareness of medicinal mushrooms, and there are so many plant extracts whether you look at Vedic medicine, Chinese medicine, African health.
“People looking at the nutrition and people are changing their diets. There is a realisation from people that good health is a combination of how you eat, how you sleep, how you live your life, how much stress you have, and then, having the right herbs and vitamins around that give you the most benefit.
“That’s where I see B3 focusing more and more on that rounded wellness for people – being able to support them with that and tying that in with innovation.”
- Curaleaf partnership to build platform for German recreational market
- Tenacious Labs acquires CBD pet company Rover’s Wellness
- Khiron announces opening of first Zerenia medical cannabis clinic in Brazil
- MGC Pharma receives first tranche of funding under new $10m financing facility
- Akanda and Cansativa to supply German patients with cannabis flower