As the CBD wave continues to roll in food and beverage products, new categories are emerging. The non-psychoactive additive is popular in drinks positioned as alcohol alternatives, but so far beer-like products have dominated the space.
Mirth Provisions’ latest brand, Otto’s CBD Cider, is starting to gain traction in retail, restaurants and bars. The company initially planned for the product to contain THC, founder Adam Stites told BeverageDaily, but he faced pushback from regulators who thought the product packaging too closely resembled beer.
Once the Farm Bill passed in late 2018, the company decided to pivot the cider to CBD and sell it through a traditional market and through beverage and beer distributors. It started that transition in November, and was shipping by April. The product is now sold in 15 states, with another four lined up.
An alternative to alcohol
Stites said that a lot of the products launching onto the CBD beverage market are following the flavored sparkling water trend, but he wanted to create something that could specifically be positioned as an alcohol alternative.
“One thing we’ve probably not done well as a company is been on trend. Some of that is because, quite frankly, we don’t want to be. We’d rather do something that’s different and better,” he said.
Apart from the 12oz bottles, the cider is also available in kegs. Stites said the ability to have it on draft has been great for his on premise partners who have been able to incorporate it into mocktails and other zero-alcohol menu options.
The glass packaging also helps it blend in with other alcoholic drinks and fit into the space of bars and restaurants. Otto’s is sold in three varieties--Hopped Apple, Pineapple Passion and Pear Rhubarb--which contain 30mg of CBD per bottle.
The ciders are formulated with Washington apples, water, hops and hemp. Otto’s is not a fermented product, so there is no alcohol involved in any part of the process. Each bottle contains between 90-120 calories and 20-27g of sugar.
On the THC side of the business, Mirth Provisions sells Legal, a marijuana based sparkling tonic. Drift is a sublingual spray that looks like a vape pen but is applied under the tongue like a breath spray. And Giant is an all-natural botanical shot, but the company is in the process of transitioning it to a CBD base.
Mirth Provisions was founded in 2014, and Stites said it was the first company in the cannabis space to receive an edibles license in Washington state. It then expanded down to Oregon, and into Colorado and California.
While Mirth Provisions is still invested in its THC products, the market potential of CBD has been too big to pass up. Stites said “Our CBD business is on pace to exceed what we’re doing in THC.
“As people are hearing about CBD and having a positive experience, they’re seeing our product.”