December 17, 2018
As hemp becomes legalized in the coming weeks with the president’s signature on the Farm Bill, competition in the CBD industry will grow rapidly among suppliers and manufacturers. In food production, an increase in the number of competitors can sometimes lead to bad business practices, leaving consumers on the losing end of a race to the lowest prices in the market. Certification – both of hemp quality and USDA organic status– will establish legitimacy among producers, ultimately helping consumers find reliable and trustworthy products (independent of price) in the space and setting hemp CBD up to become a lasting, successful industry.
One way in which the industry has responded to the need for a set of safety and quality assurance standards is by establishing a hemp certification process ahead of the Farm Bill. The Hemp Authority Certification (established by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable) represents an effort from the industry to self-regulate and ensure high-quality products are reaching consumers. Rather than competing with USDA Organic Certification, the Hemp Authority seal of approval is designed to educate farmers and manufacturers on FDA Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Agricultural Practices, which will undoubtedly make the USDA process easier for participants. The program begins January 1,2019, and will be exclusively verified by third-party auditors at Where Food Comes From.
Beyond the Hemp Authority Certification, the popular, consumer-trusted organic certification program fromthe U.S. Department of Agriculture (the gold standard in agriculture and natural foods processing) has gotten involved in the hemp industry as well. Inthe first few years after the cultivation of hemp was legalized by the Farm Bill, it seemed that hemp farmers in the U.S. would be left out of the certification process due to the discrepancies between FDA processes and state pilot program regulations, but the tide appears to be turning.
In April and May of 2018, four American farms were granted USDA certification for handling and processing CBD oil and CBD-infused foods, and hundreds of farms are now certified organic hemp producers. This is good news for growers, who hope to see organic CBD products maintain the margins that organic fruits and vegetables do: around 50% to 100%higher prices. The process, which includes third party auditors and various fees, can be lengthy, but Colorado Cultivars is already seeing the benefits of USDA organic hemp certification. They are now the sole supplier to Elixinol and will have a competitive advantage when more companies inevitably begin looking for suppliers with USDA organic certification.
With hemp’s legalization following the 2018 Farm Bill, consumers will be exposed to a whole host of new CBD products and producers. The Hemp Authority certification program will allow the industry to regulate itself and bolster its legitimacy, giving consumers the information they need in order to make purchasing decisions that meet their needs for safe and unadulterated products.And the USDA’s Organic verification process will be especially useful when major retailers begin to shelve these products next to organic chocolates, soaps, and supplements.