Contract Pharmacal Corp., a family-owned pharmaceutical wholesaler in Hauppauge, has entered the fast-growing hemp market. The company recently launched Uleva, a six-product, "full-spectrum" hemp dietary supplement line.
"The hemp supplement category is by far the largest opportunity I've seen in my more than two decades in the nutraceutical industry," said Matt Wolf, Contract Pharmacal Corp.'s CEO.
Globally, the hemp market is projected to grow from $3.74 billion in retail sales in 2018 to $5.73 billion by 2020, according to the "Global State of Hemp: 2019 Industry Outlook" report by New Frontier Data, a Washington, D.C.-based cannabis research firm.
Wolf said research shows cannabinoids "support overall body balance and wellness" and said this is one of the reasons he and his brother, company president Mark Wolf, said they knew their company, which has been manufacturing and packaging pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements for nearly 50 years, was "in a key position to bring a healthy and safe hemp product to market."
The full-spectrum hemp supplements — which contain all the cannabinoids found in the whole plant, including CBD — are manufactured and tested in the business' 750,000-square-foot facility in Hauppauge.
"Half of our business consists of drug products, and the other half is centered on vitamins, minerals and supplements," said Matt Wolf. "So to manufacture a product that incorporates cannabis, which encompasses both the drug and botanical worlds, that's really our sweet spot."
The company invested about a million dollars and spent about three years on research and development for Uleva — conducting a series of focus groups, tweaking formulations and creating a marketing plan.
The 30-capsule bottles of the supplements, released in six blended formulas including "fuel," a hemp and green tea blend, and "sleep," a hemp and melatonin combination, retail for $35.99 on the company's website.
Concerns about Food and Drug Administration regulations on the sale of full-spectrum hemp products continue to keep larger retailers from carrying supplements like Uleva, Matt Wolf said.
"But we're confident it's only a matter of time," before the regulations catch up to the public acceptance that hemp products are getting, and more retailers decide to sell the products, he added.
Colleen Keahey Lanier, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association, a Phoenix, Arizona, trade group, shares Wolf's confidence.
"This perceived barrier" faced by hemp-based product makers wanting to sell their offerings at national chains "will be short-lived," she said, adding that she foresees the FDA will provide further clarification on its stance on the sale of full spectrum hemp-derived products soon.
"We also expect [the FDA] to help provide guidance to the legitimacy of hemp-derived products as safe wellness products."
After seeing how well the company's products are selling on its website, Wolf said, "We're excited about all the developments in the industry, throughout the country and in the state, and are thrilled to see that ... since the line's release, some blends are already exceeding our expectations."