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Will New Hemp-Infused Drink be a Trendsetter Among Big Brands?

These days, non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers, like PepsiCo and Coke, are seeking to expand their production amid shrinking soda consumption.

And, taking that strategy a step further, Pepsi is now hoping to attract younger female consumers with a drink that’s more soothing, in a market where men ages 18 to 34 years typically serve as the target demographic, with the release of Rockstar Unplugged – an energy drink that happens to contain hemp seed oil.

Karen Herrera, owner of Palm Organix, told The Food Institute, “For years, the beverage industry has been moving towards healthier options, using fewer chemicals and sugars and more natural ingredients, with many brands adding extra vitamins, electrolytes, protein, and antioxidants to try to appeal to the growing health-conscious consumer.

“The introduction of Rockstar/Pepsi’s new hemp drink follows this same trend, by offering a new healthy beverage targeted to this rising demographic and by using hemp as a featured ingredient. Rockstar is also signaling that hemp-based products are no longer taboo.”

PepsiCo’s latest offering from Rockstar Energy, Rockstar Unplugged contains hemp seed oil, lemon balm, spearmint and approximately 80 milligrams of caffeine – considerably less caffeine than typical Rockstar beverages. Three flavors are available: passion fruit, blueberry, and raspberry cucumber, starting at $1.99 per 12-ounce can, reported CNBC.

“When purchasing Rockstar, many consumers will assume the product contains CBD (cannabidiol), but it does not,” Herrera noted. “Rockstar uses hemp seed oil, which is not the same as CBD, nor does it contain any CBD.”

The FDA has not approved over-the-counter sales of CBD oil through interstate commerce.

Richard Rose, founder of hemp-foods-related therichardrosereport.com, said: “Hemp energy drinks typically have 50 milligrams of hemp seed oil per can, or a less-than-.01 percent hemp content. Thus, with virtually no functionality, it is purely a marketing ploy, but at least it gets the ‘H’ word in front of new consumers.”

The new hemp seed oil-infused drink “perfectly illustrates how important a plant hemp has become – and for the supplement, food and beverage industry, it’s a clear point of differentiation,” said Jason Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of HempFusion Wellness Inc. “Hemp seed oil is amazing in its own right. …”

“When the FDA begins regulating CBD, the big food and beverage conglomerates, who have been waiting on the sidelines for FDA clarity, may begin white labeling (buying a company’s services to present the product to the public under the purchasing company’s own brand name) or acquiring highly compliant brands in order to be first to market with compliant CBD beverages,” Mitchell added.