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The cannabidiol (CBD) pet product market has been growing rapidly. The evidence can be seen in dollars spent as well in the number of brands that have entered the marketplace this year.

The U.S. pet CBD market is projected to reach $563 million by the end of 2020, according to a report by Brightfield Group, a consumer insights and market intelligence firm based in Chicago. Widespread media coverage of CBD and grassroots marketing initiatives by pet CBD manufacturers are increasing consumer demand for CBD products for pets, and growth is being driven by pet owners seeking natural alternatives for pets’ medical ailments, Brightfield officials noted in a blog post.

“In pet, we’re seeing CBD inclusion for a multitude of reasons, in a variety of products by multiple manufacturers,” said Lee W. Mayberry, chief quality and regulatory affairs officer at Minneapolis-based Kradle, a brand of CBD products for dogs.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, several manufacturers have not only entered the CBD pet product space, but they’ve done so successfully, according to officials from these companies. Kradle is one such example.

“All Kradle products were new to market in June of this year,” Mayberry said. “We’re excited about the innovative products that we have in the development pipeline and think they will change the way people view the category.”

Kradle products include patent-pending BotaniTek formulations designed specifically “to calm dogs from the inside out.” The formulations use pure, broad-spectrum CBD and premium ingredients, according to the company, and Kradle offers several delivery methods.

“Kradle has designed a product portfolio that is focused on innovating in a way that makes it easier for the pet parent to address their specific need,” Mayberry said. “Kradle Chews, for instance, are easy to carry and administer in just a quick bite. [The chews are] great for multi-dog households that experience stress at different times and levels. Kradle Toppers are great for pets on a schedule. Kradle Melts are quick-dissolving and contain more CBD for sudden, high-stress situations.”

Additional products are in the pipeline, according to Mayberry.

Kradle is just one emerging brand entering the CBD pet product space. COVID-19 or not, there are several others making a footprint as well.

Bark Appeal, which up until now has focused on pet harnesses, collars and leashes, also launched a CBD pet product line during the pandemic.

“We should probably write a book on how to launch a business in the midst of the pandemic,” said Dean Robbins, co-owner of the San Clemente, Calif.-based company. “March and April were a little slow, but we knew that if we committed to making excellent products, educating our clients and constantly making ourselves available to serve, [sales would continue] to grow.”

Bark Appeal’s new line of products includes P.E.T. Purely Ex-Tracted Premium Pet CBD Drops, which are available in three concentrations, P.E.T. Purely Ex-Tracted Premium CBD Cat Treats and P.E.T. Purely Ex-Tracted Premium CBD Pet Treats. The supplements, according to the company’s website, are intended to help pets stay calm, comfortable and mobile.

Canopy Animal Health, a division of Canopy Growth Corp., expects to have its first CBD pet product line available in early 2021.

“Our first products to market will be CBD soft chews for pet-focused specialty retailers,” said Dr. Robert Menardi, director of veterinary technical and educational services at the Duluth, Ga.-based company. “As the industry leader in pet CBD science, Canopy Animal Health has deeply invested in the research and over 25 studies have been conducted to ensure the safe administration of CBD to pets. As an added level of assurance, we have voluntarily chosen to pursue becoming a National Animal Supplement Council [NASC] Primary Supplier member.”

While Grizzly Pet Products’ hemp-enhanced cannabinoid-based products are not new—the products were launched mid-2018—CBD was on the company’s radar for some time before Grizzly decided to enter the category, said Chad J. Tillman, national sales manager at the Woodinville, Wash.-based company.

“We wanted to see that the benefits and claims had scientific merit before launching any products,” Tillman said. “We saw, and continue to see, so many companies using CBD as a single ingredient ‘cure-all.’ We then decided to launch condition-specific CBD products that use CBD as the awesome ingredient that it is, while not selling it as snake oil.”

Among the products: Grizzly Hemp-Enhanced Joint Aid for Dogs and Cats, Grizzly Hemp Aid for Dogs and Cats, and Grizzly Calming Aid for Dogs and Cats.

The products are available in a pump format.

“Oxidation is an enormous concern for oil-based products,” Tillman said. “You need to have products that are designed and packaged in such a way to mitigate as much oxidation as possible. This is why Grizzly uses a one-way pump system instead of droppers that require opening for every use. Our hemp products are also water-based emulsions to help surround and protect the lipid [oil] molecules from being exposed to oxygen. We add krill oil to our hemp-enhanced products, which is a phospholipid and helps get the inherent cannabinoids get absorbed into the body so they can interact with the various bodily systems.”

Consumer Education

Talking CBD

When it comes to educating customers about cannabidiol (CBD) products for their pets, retailers should take advantage of multiple forms of communication, such as in-person discussions, social media and printed material, according to industry insiders.

“We try to engage on every level,” said Dean Robbins, co-owner of Bark Appeal, a pet accessories and CBD manufacturer in San Clemente, Calif. “Look at education like a deposit into someone’s account. We value face-to-face, social media and pamphlets so that we are constantly depositing value into our shoppers’ accounts. The more deposits you make into an account, the ‘richer’ your potential shopper feels and more likely they are to trust you with their purchases.”

Samantha Sarsilmaz, owner, nutritional specialist and educator for Point Loma Pet Pantry, a retailer in San Diego, uses various methods to educate customers but said in-person discussions have had the biggest impact.

“Definitely face-to-face interaction,” Sarsilmaz said. “A lot of times when we are talking about [CBD products], other customers in our store chime in about their personal experience.”

The store’s CBD product display by the register is also a conversation starter, Sarsilmaz said.

Lee W. Mayberry, chief quality and regulatory affairs officer at Kradle, a Minneapolis-based brand of CBD products for dogs, said it is important to identify customers’ needs so they can be directed to the proper product.

“At Kradle, we focus on whether there are identifiable triggers that cause a sudden-onset anxiousness, or if it is something that is more chronic,” Mayberry said.

Don’t be afraid to ask manufacturers questions. They should have the answers right at their fingertips, according to Chad J. Tillman, national sales manager at Grizzly Pet Products, a pet food and supplement maker in Woodinville, Wash.

“A great brand will have been asked every question imaginable regarding their CBD products and should have that information readily available to you so you can educate your customers,” Tillman said.

It’s important for retailers to keep in mind that regulations haven’t quite caught up to the CBD pet category and, therefore, they should be stringent about the products they carry, said Dr. Robert Menardi, director of veterinary technical and educational services at Canopy Animal Health, a pet CBD company and division of Canopy Growth Corp. in Duluth, Ga.

“With a poorly defined regulatory landscape, it’s imperative that CBD products are backed with scientific studies and developed with rigor by experts in the field of animal health,” Dr. Menardi said. “Claims that a product can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent a disease should be a red flag.”

Canopy Animal Health actively invests in CBD research. According to the company’s website, officials are conducting research on the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids in the areas of situational anxiety, chemotherapy symptom management, epilepsy, and joint pain and inflammation.

Assortment Optimization

Curate Your CBD Selection

With so many emerging cannabidiol (CBD) products, it may be tricky deciding on which brands to put up on the shelf. Quality should be the hallmark, said Lee W. Mayberry, chief quality and regulatory affairs officer at Kradle, a Minneapolis-based brand of CBD products for dogs.

“If the product isn’t properly formulated and backed by a third-party certificate of analysis, why would a retailer want to offer it?” Mayberry added.

Dr. Robert Menardi, director of veterinary technical and educational services at Canopy Animal Health, a pet CBD company and division of Canopy Growth Corp. in Duluth, Ga., agreed.

“We recommend checking the manufacturer’s website for certificate of analysis,” Dr. Menardi said. “The product offerings should include high-quality ingredients, and that list of ingredients should be clearly visible on all product packages to ensure consumers are making educated choices about which products to purchase for their pets.”

Menardi and Chad J. Tillman, national sales manager at Grizzly Pet Products, a pet food and supplement maker in Woodinville, Wash., both recommended paying attention to brands bearing the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) Quality Seal.

“Stick to the brands that carry the [seal]; that way you can be confident that any claims made by that brand have scientific merit,” Tillman said.

Mayberry also suggested that retailers look for options that allow consumers to try a product before committing to larger quantities. Other factors to consider include: palatability (you don’t want to create stress by forcing the product on a pet), portability (a product only works if you have it when you need it) and ease/accuracy of dosing, Mayberry said.

Samantha Sarsilmaz, owner, nutritional specialist and educator for Point Loma Pet Pantry, a retailer in San Diego, focuses on quality and price point.

“We also test out the product ourselves, so we have personal experience with the brands we carry,” Sarsilmaz said. “Some of them have not fit the bill, so we won’t bring it in. It has to hold up to standards so we can feel confident in what we are offering to our customers.”

Both manufacturers and retailers tend to agree that more isn’t better when it comes to product selection.

Sarsilmaz said that she doesn’t like to offer too many options of one product.

“It gets too confusing for our customers,” Sarsilmaz added.

Tillman agreed.

“Too many options for consumers tend to be overwhelming,” Tillman said. “Focus on brands that are market leaders, drive consumers into your stores and give you the support that you need. It is so much easier to know everything you need [to] about a few products than trying to remember a little about many.”