Podcasts

CBD: Fad or Trend?

Get the verdict from the head of the United Natural Products Alliance (UPNA), Loren Israelsen.

Since regulations surrounding hemp (and therefore CBD) relaxed in the United States, UPNA President Loren Israelsen has been busy navigating what these changes mean for his members. Not only did our guest help to found this international trade organization focused on supporting dietary supplement companies, but also he’s committed to maintaining his leadership role as the CBD category continues to evolve.

On this episode of the Conception to Consumption (C to C) podcast, our CEO Gary Nowacki and Israelsen discuss regulatory changes in the past, present and future. Together, the two will cover everything from the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DHSEA) 2.0 to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Farm Bill. Tune in to learn more about how legislation affects the CBD industry and why limitations are pushing many companies to act for additional guidance.

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Gary Nowacki: We got an industry that’s about to be a billion dollars and it’s going to continue to grow from there. And so, isn’t it crazy that we don’t have regulations in place yet for bad actors and people making false claims on the label of their products? 

What’s the exposure to consumers, Loren? What’s the exposure to businesses that are trying to do the right thing around CBD?

Please note: This podcast is produced for informational purposes and does not constitute any scientific, legal, or medical advice. The views and opinions expressed by guests of this podcast are those of the guests alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and positions of the host or any other entity or organization. Listeners are encouraged to listen with an open mind and form opinions of their own.

Gary Nowacki: This is C to C, where we cover innovation in the food and CPG business from conception to consumption. Welcome everybody. 

My guest today is Loren Israelsen, who is president of United Natural Products Alliance. They’re a trade association of dietary supplement companies committed to safety, science, and quality.

Loren’s got a really interesting background as well. He’s previously been president of one of the larger dietary supplement companies, Nature’s Way, and he’s an attorney and he’s been very active in legislation around the dietary supplement industry. 

So Loren, welcome. We’re excited to have you here today.

Loren Israelsen: Thank you, Gary. Pleasure to be here

Gary Nowacki: So Loren, to start off, why don’t you give us some background on some of the key projects you’re working on these days at UNPA? What your member concerns are, what you think some of the bigger concerns ought to be for the broader public who’s concerned about dietary supplement topics.

Loren Israelsen: Surely. At UNPA we have three or four strategic issues that we’re watching working on every day. 

Number one on the list is CBD and hemp extract products. Most everyone is aware of the explosion of public interest in CBD, along with the social and cultural changes around recreational and medicinal marijuana. This one caught us by surprise. Few of us saw this enormous trend of CBD building as quickly as it did. 

As exciting as it is, it’s also fraught with complexity. So my staff and I are spending, I would say, roughly 30 to 40 percent of each day just on CBD-related issues.

Continue reading the transcript:

Gary Nowacki: And that’s amazing. 30 to 40 percent?

Loren Israelsen: Yeah, 30 to 40 percent. We had not budgeted that kind of time commitment, but the subject is so demanding and urgent that we simply have to respond to what is needed. And while it’s fascinating and interesting, it is certainly a time vampire. 

Several other issues that we’re also working vigorously on is what we call DSHEA 2.0. And this is a result of public statements made by FDA in the last quarter of 2018 that the agency is interested in amendments to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which we referred to as the DSHEA as the acronym. 

This was the landmark legislation passed in 1994 that created the legal framework for today’s dietary supplement industry that had a profound effect on the growth, development, and investment of our industry to the nearly $50 billion industry it is today. So. the fact that FDA has signaled their intention to go to Congress to amend certain key parts of the DSHEA is a major development, and something that our team as well as our political advisors and Washington are working a great deal on.

A third issue of great interest is compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act. It’s also an act of Congress and was designed to respond to tremendous changes in how food and food products are manufactured, grown, sold worldwide. 

As compared to 15, 20 years ago, today’s food supply is truly global in scope of nature with a lot of attendant food safety risks and hazards that need to be controlled. One of our staff is a senior FDA investigator with tremendous experience in FSMA. And so we do a great deal of industry training and education in that respect which we consider to be a high priority. 

The fourth issue that we’re actively engaged in is China. China is the number one supplier to our industry, meaning the [dietary] supplement industry, to the tune of about 80% of all raw materials that go into our dietary supplements are produced in China. That is an exceptionally high number as a total percent. Therefore, vigilance to make sure that the raw material supplies from China to the US are of high quality is a part of our FSMA program.

Also, and equally important, if not more so, to the brand holders in our industry, China is very quickly becoming the number one natural health product consumer market, and more—I would say aspirational and affluent Chinese consumer, which is about a population group of 400 to 450 million people larger than the entire US population, are very interested in natural health products for themselves, their aging parents. They’re very very interested in mother-baby health products. 

To focus our efforts in China, we will shortly open an office in Beijing. And in the fall, we will be opening a showroom at a newly developed international trade center that’s been organized by the Chinese central government. So we have high hopes for developing China as a consumer market for our leading US supplement companies and other natural healthcare product companies.

Gary Nowacki: All right. Great. Boy, that gives us enough to talk about in four podcasts, probably. So let’s pick a topic. 

Let’s drill into this CBD thing because that’s on the mind of so many consumers. It’s hot. It’s going to be very soon that it’s a billion-dollar-plus market just here in the United States. So, Loren, what’s your take on the latest—on where all the regulatory issues are landing or hopefully will land in the future related to CBD?

Loren Israelsen: Very interesting and yet very complicated issue, if you will, there Gary, that this is dynamic. It’s blowing past a billion dollars here in mid-2019. The regulatory issues are exceptionally complicated. And here’s an overview of why. 

For the longest time, as we all know that marijuana was a controlled substance. And all ingredients in marijuana were controlled substances, specifically THC. Last fall, the US Congress passed the Farm Bill. This is a very, very important bill that is required to be passed by Congress every five years. It establishes budgets, policy for agricultural products, commodities, subsidies feeding programs of all kinds. Exceptionally big and important bill. 

In that bill, they included a provision, which we refer to as the hemp provision, that legalized the industrial agricultural growing of hemp. Now, there’s often confusion. What is the difference between marijuana and hemp?

The answer is it’s the percent of THC in the plant when it is harvested. Under this new provision in the Farm Bill that a marijuana plant, let’s call it hemp, under 0.3 THC by dry weight is considered industrial hemp and not a controlled substance. This has opened the door for the broad use of hemp materials, and that includes a lot of the fibers, oils, seeds, powders and so on. CBD is the most important material that comes out of the hemp plants. 

Here’s the first complexity that the Farm Bill did not resolve the legal status of CBD, otherwise called cannabidiol. That needs to be resolved. So many of the CBD products that we all see at retail, if you were to ask FDA, they would say these are not lawfully sold products for one reason, is that we FDA have not authorized CBD as a lawful dietary ingredient or food ingredient. 

There are significant efforts to resolve this question. I have met with FDA a number of times, many others have, to look for a pathway forward so that consumers continue to have access to a product which they clearly want.

The other issue of significance is last June, just over a year ago, the FDA, the other part of FDA on the drugs side, approved CBD as a new prescription drug. This is called Epidiolex® and it is for rare forms of severe epilepsy in children. 

If you have a drug like CBD that’s new, the drug holder has a right to an exclusive market. Therefore, the CBD products in the market today are essentially infringing on the rights of this new drug holder. We have been in discussions with the drug holder, GW Pharma[ceuticals], which goes under its US brand name of Greenwich Pharmaceuticals, to see if we can establish some sort of a three lanes approach, which would have a lane for the pharmaceutical drug for dietary supplements, possibly a lane for foods, one for cosmetics, and that is an active discussion right now. 

But I must say that this is an unresolved issue and that a great deal of investment money and market activity building the CBD category is all predicated on the resolution of this issue. That is why it’s our number one priority and why it’s taking so much of our time.

Gary Nowacki: Yeah, we got an industry that’s about to be a billion dollars and it’s going to continue to grow from there. And so, isn’t it crazy that we don’t have regulations in place yet for bad actors and people making false claims on the label of their products? 

I mean, what’s the exposure to consumers, Loren? What’s the exposure to businesses that are trying to do the right thing around CBD?

Loren Israelsen: Great question. Again, very complex set of issues. Let’s start with the business side of this is that we have hundreds of companies jumping in. Some of them well established, well-known brands. Others are brand new. 

What we’re seeing, number one, is that because this is such a young market that there is a relatively inventory executive core and remembering that no one could legally deal with hemp extracts that come from the marijuana plant, now hemp, until just over a year ago. So, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot to learn, a lot to be done. 

I think it’s fair to say that the market growth has outstripped the regulatory process, the technical issues of analytical testing, reference materials, good manufacturing practices, agricultural practices, all of these things need to be further developed. So, it is remarkable, and probably without precedent to have a category growing this fast on the consumer side with so little infrastructure in place on the commercial side. And this again is why there’s an urgency to get a lot of these systems on board and much work is going into it.

Now, on the consumer side, I think it’s fair to say that, let’s look at the retailers. The big box stores are all very keen to be offering CBD products. Some have announced that they intend to do so. Most of them are starting with cosmetic products that contain CBD. That seems to be safer beginning pathway rather than a supplement or beverage or food for regulatory reasons. 

Now at a consumer level, it is exceptionally difficult for consumers to have a reliable reference source of, what is a good product, how do I know? There are relatively few of almost no certifying marks that a consumer could look for to determine quality, product integrity, safety and so on. 

So right now, the consumer is having to make choices in the absence of the usual sorts of references and I would say signals of quality that they would look for. Clearly consumers would like more direction and we hope to provide that to them as an industry. But even without it, sales of CBD are just going through the roof.

Gary Nowacki: So what’s your take, Loren? Is this a fad or is it a long-term trend? Is the CBD boom for real? Is it going to go now to a billion and then to 2 billion and then on up from there? What do you think?

Loren Israelsen: I was skeptical 12 months ago, I thought this was a fad. I have changed my mind. I believe this is a durable long-term trend, and here’s my reason. 

First is we have Congressional action through the Farm Bill late last year that indicates a strong Congressional interest in creating a lawful pathway for hemp extract products. Second, we have the legitimacy of an approved new drug for CBD that suggests that the clinical research there for CBD demonstrates it has therapeutic benefits. A lot of that yet to be explored.

Other indicators are that the agricultural sector is heavily investing in transitioning to hemp production. The USDA is providing guidance to farmers on how to plant, what seeds to use and so on. We’ve also seen FDA take very significant interest in trying to develop a regulatory pathway. 

They made it very clear that what they’re looking for is safety information on which to make a judgment that CBD can be sold as a consumer product. The questions will then be at what dosage levels and other considerations of that kind. That’s their job.

I think we can also point to the very practical matter that CBD and hemp extracts are a tremendous tax revenue base for states at the moment. And that suggests that there is an incentive on the part of local governments and state and municipal entities to try and responsibly develop both the agricultural base as well as a consumer base that would generate tax revenues for taxing authorities. 

There’s a lot of indicators that suggest that this is a durable trend. We also see massive investments coming from a very mature investors that the tobacco, the beverage industries, other major investor sectors are putting a lot of money into CBD and hemp extracts. 

So, I would say with the major caveat, which is that we need to get over the FDA resolution of regulatory status. And if that were to happen, along with clarification on merchant banking, which is the other big problem of being able to use national merchant banks to clear transactions with credit cards, if those two issues are resolved, I think that we would see a second explosion of growth and category.

Gary Nowacki: All right, so you think it’s for real? You don’t think it’s a fad anymore? You think it’s here to stay?

Loren Israelsen: I believe it’s real. I believe it’s here to say.

Gary Nowacki: I’m here with Loren Israelsen, who’s president of UNPA. So, Loren, we’ve seen in the news, companies like Ben & Jerry’s have plans to put CBD into ice cream. We’ve seen other types of food and beverage companies like Kombucha Plants or have already started putting it into their products on store shelves. 

Your trade association is made up of dietary supplement companies. So, what are your members thinking? What are your members doing right now about CBD?

Loren Israelsen: Our members are two minds on this. We have a number of our brand holders and major members that have embraced our entrance CBD sector, and others are holding back and waiting until there’s greater regulatory clarity. 

So, our membership is a reflection of the national dynamic, which is those companies that are jumping in despite the uncertainties, and those that are holding and waiting until there’s a more clear go forward pathway, particularly on the regulatory side.

And we see that in the big retailers. To my understanding, Walmart is holding, Walgreens is moving, CVS is moving, other retailers are holding back. So this is a fascinating situation where, depending on your risk tolerance and your sense of where your place in the market will be, we see a lot of companies jumping into the CBD pool and others are still standing by, and this is building a certain tension. Quite rightly. 

Those companies that are holding back and waiting, feeling that they’re respecting the regulatory process, also feel that they’re in danger of losing first mover opportunity. So, I would say that the pressure and the friction points are growing, that’s the need for resolution on the regulatory issues.

Gary Nowacki: And so Loren, what are your members telling you? Are they saying, “Loren, go set up a tent in Washington DC and don’t leave until FDA regulates this and is issued all the regulations”?

Loren Israelsen: Well, we have a very clear mandate from our members to work with FDA and all other of our peers and colleagues to find that pathway. So, we’ll [have] discussions almost on a daily basis with various parts of that mix of players, whether that’s the drug holder, regulators, other trade associations. So yes, short of having a chance to be on the [National] Mall in Washington DC, we’re about as active as we can be working toward resolution.

Gary Nowacki: And are you seeing progress? Can you say, “Hey, here’s where we’ve come in the last three months or the last six months of the last year with federal regulators”?

Loren Israelsen: I would say that we have seen movements. And the two important indicators came in May. Early May, there was a significant meeting of all of the major heads of FDA with the major trade association heads to discuss current status of CBD. And both sides had a chance to express their views, what their expectations were. That was helpful just to try and clarify respective positions to what we all hope can be achieved. 

The second and probably most important indicator about FDA was a public meeting held by FDA on May 31 of 2019 to receive public comments in response to specific questions that FDA has raised that relates to safety, good manufacturing practice, consumer understanding of usage of CBD, and related questions. It was a remarkable day. It was a 10-hour public hearing. There were well over 100 witnesses that presented testimony, followed by a public docket that has been opened and hundreds, if not thousands, of comments are being filed. And that docket is scheduled to close on July 16, which is just next week.

At that point, FDA will evaluate the comments, and we expected sometime—I’m not sure if it will be this year, but early next year we would expect FDA to provide further insight into their views on the evolution of the regulatory process. It could go either way, Gary, right now. 

Once again, the major problem is that doing research on hemp products basically didn’t exist, with a few exceptions. So a lot of this foundational work needs to be done. We can look at other countries for indicators and experience, but this is a unique problem where your hands are tied. You can’t work on, study or develop a natural product material, and then suddenly, unexpectedly, you have public adoption that jumped ahead of these normal scientific, commercial, and regulatory processes. So, this puts us in uncharted territory. You just can’t buy a map to show you how this all to get from A to B.

Gary Nowacki: You mentioned other countries. Can Washington, DC look to some models in other countries in Western Europe or Canada or other places like that, Loren?

Loren Israelsen: Yes, yes. Canada is a good working model. Parts of Western Europe. They’re all struggling with this as well. But they have allowed the production of hemp. 

France, for example, is one of the more advanced economies that has allowed hemp. Russia has done so for a long time. China is the world’s biggest hemp producer. So they have a lot of experience in growing hemp. Although CBD is not allowed to be sold in China. 

So, it’s a very mixed bag as to where we would look and how much we would learn from other countries. But by all means, we need to get every bit of information we can to have the most complete understanding of what is known and to take the best of all worlds on this.

Gary Nowacki: So Washington has a big task here. Let me ask you to speculate a little bit, if you’re willing to, Loren. Which is you’ve talked about DSHEA 2.0, you’ve talked about FSMA. Do you think it’s likely that one or both of those will bring CBD regulations into their umbrella?

Loren Israelsen: I don’t think so. It is possible that under this DSHEA 2.0 initiative that FDA is bringing, that when they go to Congress, that someone in Congress that has an interest in hemp extracts could propose as part of the overall DSHEA 2.0 package to rectify the CBD regulatory status by law, by statute, rather than by an FDA regulation. That I guess is the question of the year. I’m not sure what to think about that.

Gary Nowacki: [We’ve] got to wait and see.

Loren Israelsen: Yes. Yes. That’s one of the great unknowns is whether Congress would move faster than FDA or whether FDA will be quick enough so that Congress feels that they don’t need to take any individual legislative action on CBD. Both of them have risks to them. 

FDA has publicly said they would like Congress to provide further direction to FDA with regard to the status of CBD. The difficulty is finding the right legislative vehicle to actually do that. The way Congress is organized these days, it would be exceptionally difficult to get a small freestanding bill of that type passed.

So, I wish I could give an answer. That would be great. Everyone would like to know if there is a better shot going through Congress or through FDA. We’ll have to wait and see.

Gary Nowacki: Yeah. So I understand you don’t have a crystal ball at UNPA. But does UNPA have any general position on the benefits of CBD?

Loren Israelsen: I could say that given the time we’re investing in it, we see CBD and hemp extract as an exceptionally important and valuable category in the dietary arena. My personal view based on all the time I’ve spent on CBD so far is that it is one of the most intriguing plant materials that I have seen. And based on the recent drug approval, it suggests that there are exceptionally important properties to be explored. 

So, I would vote yes, that yes, we believe CBD has a strong future. It’s worth the time and the investments that we’re all making now to do so. 

And just as a separate reference point, if you look at the consumer response, and granted that is anecdotal, by just taking that as a totality, that cannot be dismissed as an important indicator of perceived benefit of CBD. What’s remarkable is the range of benefits the consumers talk about is so broad, anxiety, insomnia, pain relief, all the way to cancer and other serious diseases. I take a lot of that with a grain of salt. But I also know that when there is such a large body of anecdotal evidence, that is worth paying close attention to.

Gary Nowacki: And so, to clarify, your members are dietary supplement companies. So, when they make label claims, they have to be very careful. 

They have to use the appropriate methodology under DSHEA. So, they can’t have a pill out there that contains CBD and say, “Solves all your sleep problems,” or, “Takes all your pain away.” What they can do is say something like, “Supports a good night’s sleep,” or something like that, right?

Loren Israelsen: Correct. Yes. The way we view it is that we have the statutory framework of the DSHEA, or dietary supplement legislation, which clearly lays out the types of public acclaims that you can make on labels. 

And we would expect our members or any other companies to, for the present time, stay within those boundaries as a working practice for now as the best way to move forward. So, you’re right. The type of claims that would be drug claims or disease prevention claims. This would be outside the scope of what we would regard as acceptable or permissible.

Gary Nowacki: So if I’m a food company, or separately, if I’m a supplement company, what sort of general advice, Loren, would you give to companies who are thinking about putting CBD into their product as an ingredient?

Loren Israelsen: My advice to any company that is either in or interested to join this category is to don’t look over the past two years, look forward two years, and imagine what this sector will look like as a maturing, regulated industry and put your focus on the fundamentals. And that will be the quality of the seed stock. The raw material you purchase. 

The exceptional discipline and skill in the analytical arena because this is a material where you have to absolutely adhere to a very fine line between the amount of allowable THC, and if you exceed that number then you will have a hot product that becomes illegal instantly. So, this requires the highest discipline and rigor with regard to these technical skills. 

GMPs, good agricultural practice, good analytical skills, very disciplined manufacturing to make sure that your label is accurate, disciplined advertising, very careful distribution, making sure that you’re selling in lawful jurisdiction.

So my advice is that if you’re interested, be a leader and be prepared to invest in the infrastructure rather than, I would say, brand development, brand and image promotion. The winners of the future, in my judgment, will have done the fundamentals. 

I believe that there will be a CBD 2.0, and that group of companies that approach it this way will have a second opportunity to be market leaders when we better understand what true quality means in this category. And that’s where I believe that the big retailers, that physicians, that other recommenders and influencers will be looking to those proven brands that have demonstrated that high quality discipline. They will be the winners of the future. 

So, in a sentence, yeah, build fundamentals, focus on that. Your brand will follow.

Gary Nowacki: In terms of lab analysis, have you or your members seen any typical repetitive problems? I don’t know, pesticide residue or strength and potency? Any guidance you can give to companies along those lines?

Loren Israelsen: Yes. We’ve seen a lot of conflicting certificates of analysis. Many laboratories have not dealt with CBD or hemp extracts and therefore the first questions are, what reference materials are they using? What are the instrumentations, the lab qualifications, the technicians, ISO certification? 

Also, yes. You have to think about these particular problems, that hemp is a phytoremediator, that it likes to suck up heavy metals and therefore you have to be vigilant on heavy metal testing as well as herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, mold are other factors to bear in mind. 

The new issue arising is the possibility of synthetic CBD being used as part of a natural extract. And our view is that there is no place presently for synthetic CBD in this market for a number of reasons. So, trying to rule out synthetics, ruling out heavy metal, herbicides, pesticides. 

But most important is to make sure that your THC levels do not exceed the 0.3%. That would be the single most important factor. And to be sure that your laboratory is calibrated for and able to give you highly predictable, reliable analytical reports. That’s the fastest way to have a disaster is to get your numbers wrong and to have a non-compliant product on the market.

Gary Nowacki: You touch on an interesting point here about qualified labs because it is a new space. I’ve talked to a couple of CEOs of CBD, hemp-type companies. And they’ve told me that that’s one of their concerns, that labs who are otherwise good and do quality work have probably, in some cases, not really taken the time to understand the new testing and the new analysis that they have to set up. 

So I mean that’s a scary problem, right? “I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m running a company. I’m doing testing. I’m trusting the lab. I’m paying them. And they’re not qualified.” Are you seeing that as an issue out there?

Loren Israelsen: It’s a very clear issue, yeah. Labs may be very good at other things. They may not be competent yet to test this class of products. So any brand holder, contract manufacturer, anyone in the value chain, and it’s very often they don’t have a lot of expertise in this analytical, scientific arena. Hard for them to judge whether the lab is competent or not. 

We’re actually planning a series of webinars and special trainings for executives and industry members to help them understand what the questions are just to understand the lexicon, the terminology, what should they be asking, how do they vet these laboratories? And our hope at UNPA is to be able to provide a recommended list of labs that we have high confidence in given how critical the lab analysis is to a quality product.

Gary Nowacki: Now we know that in the two major cannabis plants, marijuana and hemp, there are these naturally occurring compounds, THC, CBD. But increasingly there’s new research that there, I’ve heard, are something like a 100 additional other compounds that are very interesting.

Do you or your members have any research going on or any long-term perspective about there’re going to be other interesting things that we can extract from these plans?

Loren Israelsen: You raise a fascinating question. There are about—I keep seeing different numbers—but somewhere between 110 and 115 other cannabinoids. The two superstars are THC and CBD. 

What about the others? These are all first cousins and siblings of the two star chemicals. There’s a growing voice within our community that there are other interesting chemicals. We, to be honest, Gary, have not had time or the bandwidth to get into that other than to know that they are there, there is interest, and that it is likely as one or more of those pop onto the radar as chemicals of interest that we will need to expand our focus beyond CBD to some of these other cannabinoids. 

I hope that that doesn’t happen in the near future because we’ve got our hands full with CBD, and it would likely cause us to have to revisit all of the issues we’ve discussed on this call every time that there’s a new piece of the chemistry of cannabis that we have to deal with. So, this could be job security for a very long time if we continue to see a rollout of other interesting chemistry from the cannabis plant. And that wouldn’t surprise me. In fact, I expect that to happen. But no current predictions on which ones will be the next ones that are rising stars.

Gary Nowacki: Is UNPA or your members working with any specific research laboratories on these types of topics, or just sort of monitoring what’s going on?

Loren Israelsen: Well, yeah. In fact, I can tell you that we have signed memorandums of understanding with several organizations. Several months ago, we signed an agreement with the Hemp Industry Association to further our understanding of the hemp market. 

That has been a very productive, collaborative relationship for them to teach us more. We have been at each other’s conferences and events. We have done shared webinars, seminars that will continue to build our knowledge base of the hemp industry through them. 

And I’m pleased to tell you that as of Tuesday, two days ago, we signed another memorandum of understanding with the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Center at the University of Arkansas. They have a deep expertise in a lot of the clinical and toxicological science around cannabis. We look forward to working with them to be an expert advisor to us, particularly on the talks and the safety issues around cannabis and CBD.

We have several other organizations that we are in negotiations with of a similar nature, and we’ll be happy to announce those in course, and those are designed to help advance and speed up our ability to tackle these technical issues that we’ve discussed. 

Our view is that we need to find the best and the brightest in specific areas of knowledge and collaborate with them, given the size and the dynamic nature of this category that’s developing. So, we’re trying to collaborate in order to serve our members, but also to try and make sure that consumers are well served with products of high quality that are well-made, that provide the benefits that they’re hoping for and the prices that reflect the benefits that they offer.

Gary Nowacki: Well, kudos to UNPA for playing a leadership role here because, obviously, this category is going to continue to evolve.

Loren Israelsen: It is. It continues to be dynamic. The internal joke at our office is that we wake up in the morning waiting to read something in the news around CBD and hemp. 

We have not been disappointed. Every day, there is something that’s new and important, so. I must say, it’s an exciting time for us. You don’t get challenges of this kind very often, and we’re doing our best to recognize the opportunity, but to be realistic about the challenges of meeting the expectations of all of these varied stakeholders, ranging from Congress, the regulators, the scientific community, practitioners and physicians, and the general public, all of whom have very strong needs and are all trying to do their respective job. And we hope to be an effective partner to help facilitate a good result for all sides on this important issue.

Gary Nowacki: Loren, before we go into wrap-up, any other words of advice or points you’d like to make with our listeners?

Loren Israelsen: Well, I would stress again, for those that are interested on the commercial side that are thinking of getting into this category is to be exceptionally vigilant about the fundamentals here, is to spend the time and the money to truly understand the details. There’s no category where that is more important, that success and failure will be determined by that kind of rigorous vigilance.

Gary Nowacki: I want to thank my guest today, Loren Israelsen, who is president of United Natural Products Alliance. Loren, thank you so much for being a guest today. We’ve got a lot of topics. We would love to have you back on the podcast in the future to talk about some of these other initiatives that UNPA is doing with China, with DSHEA, with FSMA, but this has been a great talk today on CBD.

Loren Israelsen: Gary, it’s been my pleasure. I appreciate your time as well.

Gary Nowacki: Thanks for listening to C to C, where we cover innovation in the food and CPG business from conception to consumption. Just type the letters C-T-O-C, no spaces, to find us on iTunes, Stitcher, Podbean, and Google Play.


This episode of the C to C podcast originally aired August 15, 2019.