THE New Year has brought a realisation that the Novel Food deadline is less than three months away leading to ‘absolute panic’ for many CBD brands, say leading industry figures.
Gavin Ogilvie is founder and Managing Director of Manchester-based Always Pure Organics, a business which has spent £450,000 submitting three Novel Food applications to the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA).
As a white-label wholesaler it has 262 global clients with the UK and Europe – the two markets requiring Novel Food compliance – accounting for 88% of its client base.
Mr Ogilvie says he has been contacted by around three dozen UK brands looking for urgent assistance to secure Novel Food Validation, with some also looking to defect from their existing bulk ingredient suppliers.
‘Help Me, Please’
He told BusinessCann: “We are seeing some major freak-outs; businesses are calling us to say ‘help me, what should I do’. Everyone is now looking at it; with the deadline a matter of weeks away they realise it can no longer be pushed out into the future.”
In some cases brands appear to have been misled by their existing suppliers, says Mr Ogilvie.
“Many are calling us to say that for months they have been told it was in-hand, but now there’s no more time for delay the realisation has dawned. Many have simply been misled by their existing suppliers. Some are in a state of absolute panic,” he added.
Phantom Novel Food Applications
Steve Oliver, Co-founder and Director of UK cannabis experts The Canna Consultants likewise encounters turmoil in the market.
He told BusinessCann: “In recent weeks we have seen a sharp increase in the number of panicked companies. Stories of continued reassurance by raw ingredient manufacturers and white labellers regarding phantom Novel Food applications are common.
“Whether these companies ever had any intention of making an application is unclear but what is crystal clear is that there are a lot of companies who have relied on these assurances and are now desperately seeking alternatives.
“There are a number of barriers to the late game of musical chairs, notably; the FSA position on new to the market and the requirement to submit six weeks ahead of the March 31, deadline.
Many companies and advisors have become suspiciously silent regarding their once vociferous grand plans of 2020.
“There are clearly many companies who have not taken steps to achieve compliance but we are seeing many who have done so and are now faced with an uncertain future as their suppliers finally admit that they have done nothing.”
Polle van den Wildenberg is CEO of Dutch business cantopia.eu. It is a marketplace for bulk trading in hemp and cannabis-related products serving many CBD brands.
No Clear Answers
He said: “A lot of CBD extract suppliers have not been able to offer clear answers on questions regarding Novel Food Compliance.
“If our clients need specific information for their Novel Food application Always Pure Organics is there to help them out. They don’t put a price tag on that service, but it has been very valuable for us and our clients.”
Liverpool-based Ged Shudall, Chief Product Officer, at Vilosophy, a vaping and ‘next generation product’ business, also praised Always Pure for stepping-in to help saying its on-going assistance in the delivery of its first brand V&YOU was ‘supportive and transparent’.
Always Pure currently supplies 20% of the UK domestic market whilst also supplying its isolates and broad-spectrum distillates to brands across the globe. Around one-third of its stock goes into the Asian market.
It has submitted a Novel food application for an isolate from its Swiss supplier and for an isolate and broad-spectrum distillate from its Colombian supplier.
Accompanying these are ‘piggy-backed’ applications from a further 100-plus brands seeking validation through Always Pure’s Novel Food submissions.
While most of these will not require additional supporting data the more bespoke product formulations will do, at a cost of up to £50,000.
Always Pure has funded the Novel Food applications through its balance sheet.
The FSA set a deadline of March 31 for Novel Food applications to be submitted and validated, although realistically applications will need to be submitted by the middle of February for validation. Validation will allow products to remain on the UK market while the authorisation process takes place, and this can take a further year.