There are many CBD products flooding the market, so it’s important retailers know how to differentiate between brands and choose the best options for their stores.
By Michele Tymann
Over the past few years, cannabidiol (CBD) products have become exponentially more available in the pet products market. According to the Brightfield Group, sales of CBD pet products quadrupled from 2017 to 2018, earning $32 million. This is expected to grow to $1.16 billion by 2022, making it imperative that pet retailers know how to differentiate between brands and determine which ones they can trust.
“Not all CBD hemp oil products are the same,” says Chelsea Gennings, co-founder and vice president of Pet Releaf. “Retailers should be looking out for a product’s source of hemp, its method of extraction, whether a product uses the whole hemp plant or only the hemp seed, and they should especially watch out for isolate.”
The Littleton, Colo.-based company manufactures hemp oil products for both cats and dogs. 100 percent of the company’s hemp oil is grown at its joint-venture hemp farm in eastern Colorado, which is the largest Certified USDA organic hemp farm in the U.S. The company has developed its own strain of hemp specifically made for pets.
“Pet Releaf CBD hemp oil is a plant-based ‘superfood’ derived from its strain of Certified USDA Organic hemp, PR-33,” says Gennings. “PR-33 was hand selected because its cannabinoid profile was found to be the most optimal for pets. Our hemp oil is completely safe and non-toxic because of where and how our hemp is grown, and because of how we extract and refine PR-33.”
The hemp is tested multiple times during the growing, extraction and packaging process to ensure it meets the company’s standards. Gennings suggests retailers visit each company’s facilities to know exactly what products they are getting.
Charlotte’s Web also tests its hemp products multiple times during the growing process.
“We only use our consistent proprietary genetics grown on American family farms,” says Marilyn Good, director of sales. “We test our plants frequently, so they’re harvested when their phytochemical profile meets our standards.”
The Boulder, Colo.-based company manufactures oils, chews and balms for dogs. Good suggests that when looking for reputable companies, retailers should first check to see if a company is certified by The U.S. Hemp Authority website.
Ed Berger, CEO of Groomers Helper, believes research is key.
“You really do have to do your homework because there are way too many companies out there that are not being forthright,” says Berger. “First, you want to make sure that you can see all of the Certificates of Analysis (COA) from independent labs and verify them.”
Groomers Helper’s ReThink CBD is double independent lab tested to assure that the raw materials are free of pesticides, heavy metals and other contaminants. The company produces both CBD chews and sprays.
“Once the raw materials pass the full lab panel, the CBD oil is extracted through a cold CO2 process (which is the most effective and most expensive way to create the full spectrum base CBD oil that is used in all the products),” says Berger. After that, it is tested for a second time to ensure the products contain full spectrum CBD oil and the concentration is exactly what the label says.
Min S. Lee, president of brand development and co-founder of Honest Paws, believes retailers should always ask the following six questions when considering a brand:
1) Where does the hemp for their CBD oil actually come from?
2) How is the CBD extracted? Is it solvent extraction, CO2 extraction, if CO2 is it subcritical or supercritical?
3) Is the CBD they are using a full-spectrum oil?
4) How long has the brand been around?
5) Are the ingredients organic? At the very least, are the ingredients wholesome enough for customers to pronounce?
6) Ask for a COA and check to see if there is any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the lab results.
The League City, Texas-based company produces CBD oils, pastes and chews for cats, dogs and horses. The company works with retailers to ensure they are aware that Honest Paws’ products are of superior quality.
“First and foremost, we start by sourcing our CBD from one farm in Colorado that we have a special relationship with,” says Lee. “This allows us to maintain much more consistency as opposed to some brands that don’t really know or care where their hemp material comes from. We are one of the very few brands that uses USDA Certified Organic CBD Oil.”
The company also uses organic, human-grade ingredients and tests its products three times during the creation process.
Quality testing is necessary for manufacturers who want to separate themselves from the rest of the companies on the market.
“Being National Animal Supplement Council Certified, Grizzly is held under a much more scrutinous microscope than most other manufacturers of supplements. Regular and routine testing, by multiple third-party companies, is required of us to not only ensure our products are safe, but also that they contain what we say they do,” says Chad Tillman, national sales manager of Grizzly Pet Products, based in Woodinville, Wash. “Our phyto-cannabinoid hemp products, with naturally occurring cannabidiol, also has quantities established by a veterinarian for assurance and efficacy.”
The company offers three hemp-enhanced supplements for cats and dogs that aid with calming, and hip and joint support.
Austin and Kat, a Seattle, Wash.-based company, also ensures its products are up to par by testing each SKU multiple times throughout the process.
“We test the potency of our input supplies and products both before and after baking, and the pharmaceutical grade hemp supplied to us is once again third-party tested to ensure it meets our high standards for safety and potency,” says Kat Donatello, founder of Austin and Kat. “We also make all our test results available online, so you can easily have a look to verify results for yourself.”
Austin and Kat produces CBD-infused biscuits for dogs and CBD hemp oils for dogs and cats, as well an an extra strength version suitable for horses. The company has been in the CBD market since 2014, and encourages its customers to do research and look for companies that are transparent.
“We want our customers to be 100 percent confident that they’re getting exactly what they pay for, every single time,” adds Donatello.
Being as transparent as possible is an important aspect in assuring retailers that a product is safe. This can be achieved in many ways, such as making all testing results available online, or even by including QR codes on products.
“King Kanine was one of the first—if not the first—pet company to put a QR code directly on our box,” says Jon Neveloff, partner at King Kanine. “This QR code sends the customer to our third-party stats where you can see all of our products listed. We try to be as transparent as possible because we would never create something that we wouldn’t use on our dogs first.”
The Plantation, Fla.-based company produces oils, balms, cookies and sprays in various concentrations for all sizes of dogs. The company’s CBD is derived from the highest quality, naturally-occurring broad-spectrum CBD, which is suspended in Antarctic Krill Oil for maximum efficacy and potency.
Many of Groomers Helper’s products display QR codes that will take customers to the test results for the specific product.
“It is a totally transparent process, with the highest quality standards from beginning to end,” says Berger.
While quality ingredients and products are of the utmost importance, retailers need to know and understand the proper dosing for each product, and in turn be able to relay this information to their customers.
“The amount you should give your cat or dog depends on two main factors: your pet’s weight and what you’re using the product for,” says Gennings. “It’s important to first base usage information off of your pet’s weight as an effective starting point.”
Pet Releaf has a usage calculator on its website where consumers can put in their pet’s type, weight, age, usage expectancy and severeness to help calculate the proper dosing.
“All Pet Releaf products should be administered twice daily,” adds Gennings. “Our USDA Organic CBD hemp oil has a half-life of nine hours. By splitting the daily usage between the morning and evening, you’re ensuring your pet is covered for the majority of the day.”
Honest Paws also has a dosing calculator where pet parents provide their animal type, age, weight and expected usage, which results in a variety of products that are best suited for their pet.
“We noticed that a major sticking point for customers was how much to dose their pets, says Lee. “Based on this feedback, we created a product architecture that is designed around two factors: the use case and the animal’s weight.”
They have Level 1 tincture for small dogs, Level 2 for medium dogs and Level 3 for large dogs.
“Each bottle contains 30 full droppers of oil, making it a month’s supply,” adds Lee. “Easy to understand, easy to use and easy to sell. This also creates a monthly cycle which benefits our retailers in creating predictable, repeat business.”
Neveloff also believes providing a dosing chart is imperative to provide retailers and consumers with the proper knowledge of the products they are buying.
“Dosage is based on weight and issue,” says Neveloff. “Each box comes with an easy-to-follow dosing chart. For example, you would use a smaller amount for a yorkie as compared to a shepherd.”
The dosing chart for King Kanine’s products is also available on its website.
Austin and Kat emphasizes that a lot of research is done by the manufacturer when determining the correct dosages.
“As we’ve discovered through our research, we’ve worked out a ‘starting’ serving size based on the pet’s weight, disposition and need state we are working with,” says Donatello. “After five years of working with dogs, cats, horses (and the occasional llama), we are confident we have determined what works best for most pets.”
Looking Towards the Future
It’s obvious that the CBD pet category is going to continue to grow at an exponential rate. This means that retailers are going to need to be even more vigilant in the future when deciding which products and brands to carry in their stores. Companies that work directly with their retail partners are always going to stand out in the flooded market.
“Pet Releaf works with almost 6,000 independent pet retailers, which allows us to have direct contact with retailers and effectively relay the benefits of our products,” says Gennings. “We recommend that pet owners consult with veterinarians directly for more serious cases.”
The company has several new product lines coming in early 2020 and just rolled out its Boom Bars and special edition Marking Dog Collection Edibites.
Another way companies can stand out is by providing educational materials easily searchable on their websites.
“Honest Paws also offers an online course for all retailers’ employees called Honest Paws Academy,” says Lee. “It’s a great way to educate employees so that they have the confidence to sell our products, resulting in higher turnover of inventory.”
It’s important to note that while there are many reputable companies out there, the category is still having its growing pains, but that is to be expected of any new product development.
“This category will go through a saturation cycle as we see more and more new brands trying to cash in on the trend,” adds Lee. “Ultimately, we’re confident that the companies offering unique, quality products will start to separate themselves from the rest of the space while substandard brands start to diminish from market awareness.”
Whatever the future has in store for CBD sales, it’s important to keep in mind the impact this category is making on the pet industry and consumers in general.
“It’s just been so exciting to see how we’ve been so impactful in pet owners’ lives, people write in every day to tell us,” says Donatello. “I think we’re just barely scratching the surface here.” PB