The year 2020 hasn’t turned out quite as the world might have hoped. A virus pandemic known as the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus has created a trail of destruction across much of the world, with global death statistics recording more than 550,000 fatalities as of July 1, 2020.
Although the health crisis has imposed compulsory stay-at-home orders among U.K. residents – not to mention the rest of the world – opportunities have blossomed, albeit unexpectedly, in the U.K. CBD market.CBD – the abbreviated version of what scientists refer to as ‘cannabidiol’ – is one of hundreds of cannabis-derived compounds. This cannabinoid has gained a lot of attention in recent times, with many scientists hailing it as a highly potent plant-based chemical that possesses antidepressant, anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak is putting everyday people at risk of health problems – primarily, inflammation of the lungs – CBD is emerging as a sought-after ingredient at this pivotal point in human history. This is not to say that COVID-19 hasn’t inflicted some serious damage on the global economy.
Supply chains have come to a halt, travel restrictions have prevented tourism and businesses are going under. Nonetheless, CBD businesses have experienced a surge of demand for their products amid the coronavirus crisis; suggesting that the cannabinoid could become a necessity in many people’s lives once the pandemic eases.
The U.K. CBD industry was catapulted to new realms of success in January 2019 – along with the rest of Europe – because it was at this point that the European Union Food Safety Agency included CBD on its list of Novel Foods. In February 2020, the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) announced that businesses must submit novel food authorization applications by 31 March 2021, as well as have them fully validated. “After this date, only products for which the FSA has a valid application will be allowed to remain on the market,” reads a statement from the Agency, which intends on developing a much more clarified and performant sector through this system. With the existing market being widely unregulated, the FSA stresses the importance of ensuring consumer safety.
8.4 million Britons Purchased/Intended to Purchase CBD Products this Year An influx of people – of all ages and from all walks of life – are increasingly seeking out natural ways to restore health and wellness. CBD is having a breakthrough moment as one of the most in-demand self-care products of today.
This natural health and wellness solution is impressing scientists who’ve discovered its efficacy at relieving the symptoms of mental health, physical and neurodegenerative health conditions.Alphagreen.io – an online marketplace for legitimate CBD products in the U.K. – recently released the results of a study on buying behavior.
Based on the results, more than 8.4 million Britons are believed to be purchasing CBD products on a regular basis. The expenditure of those Britons amounted to £150 million during the first four months of 2020, putting the U.K. market on-track to yield £450 million throughout the entire course of the year. Should this insight materialize, market growth would be 50% greater than it was last year. CEO Alexej Pikovsky of the Alphagreen.io marketplace instigated the research project soon after the COVID-19 crisis ignited; at which point, more people started shopping for CBD products.
Pikovsky believes that the surge in demand can be attributed to the fact that people are searching for alternatives after experiencing more intense bursts of anxiety than usual and/or are feeling neglected by the traditional health system.
Of the 5,000 people surveyed for Alphagreen.io’s study, approximately 42% of buyers are using CBD as a pain management tool, whereas 21% are battling sleep disorders/insomnia, and 19% for anxiety. Furthermore, 38% of buyers chose to combine CBD with conventional over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Demand for CBD products in the U.K. Could Extend Beyond the Pandemic
The unexpected and fast ascension of CBD products in the U.K. cannabis market has left many people questioning whether or not the hype will fizzle out once the pandemic is over. If the research recently garnered by Alphagreen.io is anything to go by, then there’s a chance that the spike in interest and sales could nosedive once the coronavirus-triggered fear mongering has dissipated.The research indicates that 53% of people who bought CBD in the U.K. did so within the last 12 months. Although a portion of these purchases would have been made prior to the COVID-19 outbreak at the beginning of 2020, researchers also have reason to believe that the pandemic further stimulated buying thereafter.Consumers are quickly turning to the internet as a shopping tool amid COVID-19, with the Alphagreen.io survey revealing that 38% of the people who purchased CBD in the U.K. did so by going online, whereas 14% purchased CBD from health stores and 13% from licensed pharmacies. The results of the survey signify a growing need for online CBD sales portals now and post-pandemic.
March 2021 Deadline Set by U.K Food Standards Agency for CBD Product Compliance
Recently, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) fell under fire from the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA), which alleged that the Agency had neglected the CBD and hemp industry amid the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the CTA, which requested a deadline extension for the CBD Novel foods deadline at the end of March, the FSA should grant CBD suppliers more time to submit novel food authorization applications.
Unfortunately for businesses in the sector, the deadline as previously set out by the FSA – March 31, 2021 – remains the same. Described as “unsympathetic” by the CTA, the FSA responded to the Association’s claims on April 9 by saying the following:“The FSA has not received any evidence in support of the suggestion that recent events with COVID-19 has rendered CBD businesses incapable of formulating novel food applications to the appropriate standard to meet next year’s deadline.
This view is additionally in the context of the background to CBD extracts and the fact that CBD businesses have already had well over a year and have just under a further year to progress novel food applications; a total of over two years. Furthermore, discussions with yourselves and others in the industry have been ongoing for significantly longer. We consider that this is more than enough time to have planned and started the necessary studies.
In fact, several CBD businesses have and are building the applications aiming towards the validated application process deadline date, with some having already submitted initial applications. As such I can confirm there is no change in approach and the deadline as previously set out by the FSA remains.”Sellers have now been instructed by local authorities that their CBD products should not be sold before the deadline if they are “not incorrectly labeled, are not unsafe to eat and do not contain substances that fall under drugs legislation.” The agency affirms that it will continue to impose novel food rules at a local authority level.
Written and Published By Bethan Bee Rose In Weed World Magazine Issue 147