Minnesota-based CBD health and wellness brand BLNCD Naturals (pronounced Balanced) is making its first step into the beverage space, partnering with Big Watt Coffee to produce a line of CBD-infused sparkling waters launching this month.
The new line, called BLNCD, aims to differentiate itself within the quickly crowding CBD sparkling water market by focusing on natural ingredients and specific use occasions. Speaking with BevNET, BLNCD co-founder Allison Vaillancourt said the company has developed unique terpene blends for each flavor, which emphasize different moods and functional benefits. As well, the drinks are flavored with botanical extracts rather than natural flavors.
Each of BLNCD’s three flavors are designed for different use occasions: Balance (blueberry lemon), intended to promote mental clarity and decrease stress; Bliss (pink grapefruit), formulated to improve mood and increase energy; and Chill (berry acai), for relaxation. All three are infused with 20 mg of CBD per 12 oz. can and will retail for $4.99 each, as well as in 8-packs.
“When creating these blends we didn’t want a one-size-fits-all solution,” Vaillancourt told BevNET. “We think of terpenes as the essential oils of the cannabis plant. We feel terpenes are the future of new cannabis formulation and when you go to dispensaries today they are arranging their cannabis strains by their terpene profile. They have their own therapeutic value and they work synergistically with CBD.”
To create the line, BLNCD — which launched in December 2018 and primarily makes topicals and tinctures — partnered with fellow Minnesota brand Big Watt Coffee, a cafe and ready-to-drink cold brew coffee maker with distribution in 35 states. The company chose to use the BLNCD name due to its established reputation in the Midwest as a premium wellness brand.
Jason Westplate, head of R&D for BLNCD and the founder and COO of Big Watt, told BevNET that his company had been exploring a CBD beverage play for over a year but a chance meeting with Vaillancourt convinced the two to work together on a product. Although the sparkling waters are branded as BLNCD products, Big Watt is handling all manufacturing and the two companies will combine their distribution networks to quickly scale the line, initially focusing on the Midwest market.
“We are definitely utilizing both of our experiences in the CPG space,” Westplate said. “We have some crossover, we’re both in a lot of health and beauty and natural food accounts. But we can fill those gaps that either side of us doesn’t have so we’ll be getting creative in getting products out there and leveraging existing contacts and relationships.”
According to Westplate, Big Watt and BLNCD initially planned to manufacture the line last year in Minnesota, but production was moved to its Wisconsin facility when the state cracked down on the sale of CBD beverages last summer. Although the companies are wary of the uncertain regulatory environment surrounding CBD in food and beverage, Westplate said they decided to move ahead rather than lose ground while waiting for federal guidance.
“We didn’t want to spend a ton of time and energy developing products that we’re incredibly proud of to just have them sit there and wait for the next statement [from the government],” Westplate said. “So we went across the border, doubled our efforts and are still keeping everything propelling forward.”
The launch of BLNCD comes as Big Watt grows its ready-to-drink beverage arm. While the brand has strong distribution in the Midwest and a presence in Texas and the Rocky Mountain region, Westplate said the company will target the East Coast this year. The brand’s next innovation will be a caffeinated sparkling water line set to launch later this year.
BLNCD sparkling water could also be the first of several CBD beverage plays, Westplate and Vaillancourt said, with coffee being one potential category that is “waiting in the wings.”
“With our production capability, our research and development capability, we want to be doing more than what we had been solely focused on for the last four years,” Westplate said. “BLNCD has done an awesome job in the health and beauty space. The synergy between the two of us is strong.”