Episode 75: Formulating Premium CBD Products



Joe: On this episode of "The CBD University Podcast," it's the first in our two-part series as we take you behind the scenes with our formulation team to learn about our brand new formulation lab, the team that gets the whole process started of creating your favorite CBD products and how they craft that perfect formula in each product. This is "The CBD University Podcast," and it starts right now.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, host to "The CBD University Podcast." And if you are a returning listener, we welcome you back to our podcast. If you are a new listener, we are glad you found us on your podcast platform of choice. You can also find full video episodes of "The CBD University Podcast" on the Global Widget YouTube channel and the YouTube channels of our brands. And you can also subscribe to our podcast—the audio or the video version. And whatever you do, you'll get notifications when episodes are published each week.

We're taking you way back to the very beginning of any of our products that you order from us or find on the shelves at your favorite retailers. It all starts with our formulation team who recently moved into a brand new formulation lab. We'll talk about that plus the experience and education needed to be a formulator and how hard is formulating CBD done right.

Joining me for this episode, two members of our recently expanded in-house formulation team, our newly promoted quality control manager, Nelson Rodriguez, and one of our formulators, Michael Diaz. Welcome to both of you to the podcast for the first time.

Nelson: Thank you, Joe.

Michael: I appreciate you having us.

Joe: First of all, welcome to the team. Second of all, congratulations on the new title. And let's start off with that. Let's hear a little bit about what you both do, what brought you to Global Widget, and how exactly do you decide to get into a career of product formulation?

Nelson: Well, you really get to, like, decide to make a move that big, it's just on the background that you have, right? So, I mean, we have a lot of background and basically different formulation from industrial chemicals to other stuff. And basically, I mean, the opportunity was way too attractive to deny it. Like, to get into this booming industry, right, it's a very different environment but it's a challenge itself. I don't know.

Michael: Yeah. No, I mean, being a formulator, just an R&D person, you love to do something different every day. And so that's something [inaudible 00:02:30] challenge every day, different things like that. And so I've been doing it for the last 10 years as a chemist. And when it came, what he said, into this new up and coming industry, I wanted to be part of that, and I could see the commitment Global Widget had to putting science into their processes, and trying to, you know, improve and make the gummy as high-quality as it could be.

Joe: So I mentioned in the introduction that you both work in a brand new 400-square-foot formulation lab located here at our manufacturing headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Discuss the features of this lab. And what does this expansion allow you as formulators to do on a daily basis for our customers, private label customers, wholesale and retail partners?

Nelson: So the lab is a big lab, right? And we have a lot of formulators. The team actually is growing. I think what I like to most is we can bounce ideas off each other, right? We're not really that far apart. Like, if I have an idea here, it might sound, like, crazy to me but for somebody it might be a great idea, right? I might be stuck on a formulation but I can't make it happen. Michael might have, you know, input on that. Another person might have an input on that.

So what I'm trying to say is basically like every formula, every tincture of gummy or whatever we are making in the lab, it's more like a team kind of formulation in there, right? It's really difficult to come up with a formula by yourself even though you can do it, but it will take you more time if you spend the time alone instead of asking for help. Like, I ask help from Michael all the time, right? I'm like, "Hey, I'm stuck in this. Michael, can you help me?" And then Michael brings some input, and then we have other people bring even more input into it. So it's a challenge every day, right? Every formula is different.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, that's the cool thing. And I think, again, this goes back to what I was saying a little bit ago. The commitment, right? I mean, we have a bunch of formulators there with different backgrounds all from different industries. They come together to help make that gummy as good as possible and everybody adds a little piece. It's a very team effort, you know, focus group, and so we all try to go there and help out whatever we can do to get that gummy out and then hopefully to production but, you know, as careful as possible at the same time, too, making sure that formula is what it needs to be and provides what the customer wanted at the end of the day.

Joe: And speaking of customers, they don't see any of the product obviously until it is in our hands, the finished...and purchase either online or retail. So let's go back to how it all starts. And you talked a little bit about this in your previous answer, but do you try different formulations and flavors before moving to mass production? And how do we decide on moving forward with the formulation for a new flavor or a new product?

Nelson: That's a good question. Every formula is different, right? So let's say Customer X wants Flavor Y and then another customer wants Flavor Z, right? When you change a flavor or even all the raw materials in a formulation, you're already changing the whole system, right? So you cannot expect to have the same stability with System A that has a flavor in there, right, and then you have System B that has another flavor. It changes everything completely from stability, from color, texture, flavor, everything. So, yeah, no formula is the same is what I'm trying to say. And to keep it consistent, to keep a product life stable, a lot of variables come into account, right?

Michael: Yeah, 100%. I mean, it's all about putting science into it, right, and just trying to know when you're formulating what is it that the customer wants, what's actually technically feasible, right? When it comes to our part, there's a technical feasibility. And then we give feedback if there needs to be feedback or we just carry on through to make the gummy and make it work how it needs to work.

Joe: So one thing you mentioned, I had this question come up a little bit later but we'll talk about it now because you just mentioned it. So no two formulas are the same, but we're talking hundreds, maybe thousands of products. So how do you keep track of all the different formulas? I mean, if every product has its unique formula, we're talking hundreds and hundreds of formulas.

Nelson: Yeah, I mean, it all goes to fundamental science, right? It all goes back to chemistry. Now, yes, not a single formula is the same as the other one, right, but that doesn't mean that the system is going to behave closely to another formula, right? So the way we keep track is... I mean, we do have all the formulas, right? To keep track of it is...for example, that's why I brought the team effort thing, right? Maybe Michael was working on a formula, right, that is very similar to a formula I'm working right now. It's not the same thing but it's as close as possible as the formula I'm working with, right?

So that's when I go to Michael. I'm like, "Okay, Michael, he has more experience working with this active, right?" So I'm like, "Okay, Michael, in your experience, how does active ingredient in the gummy has made the stability of the gummy or texture or any of the other characteristics of the gummy, like, how they behave, right?" So if Michael has more experience in that, then I'll go to him. I'm like, "Hey, how does this behave with my formulation? What do you think is going to happen?" At least, that's the way I see it.

Michael: Yeah, I mean, you just take it one formula at a time, right? Everyone is different. And then if you have ones that are running into similar actives and stuff like that, you have conversations with those people who work with those. What are the good things you saw? What are the maybe negative effects you saw on the gelling chemistry behind it? And then you formulate it to make it the gummy that you want. But, yeah, it's a group effort. You know, you just have to talk amongst each other, and we all kind of help each other out at the end of the day.

Nelson: Yeah. We have fun.

Michael: It is.

Nelson: At the end of the day, we're just having fun, to be honest with you.

Michael: It really is. I mean, it's a joy to put science into this but it's also got a little bit of that creative factor because now you got to make all sorts of gummies, all different flavors, all different colors. And it's different shapes. And all that adds a little bit of factor into the formulation but it is fun.

Nelson: Well, and actually, you know what? When people say like it's just a formula, you made the formula, and that's it, it doesn't stop there, right? It goes through the whole process, right? One, let's say you have a stable formula in the lab, right? And then you need to scale that up, right, and we have the capabilities in the lab, right? We have a depositor that can get us to the middle point of  batch and production batch, right?

So things don't behave the same on smaller quantities in the lab versus the other equipment that we have in here, so we take that into account, right? So we've taken to account the whole process from literally the theory of the gummy that we're trying to formulate and then to basically the production, right?

Joe: Is there a type of product that's harder to formulate? You've talked about the tinctures. You've talked about the gummies even, you know, like, a topical product. Is there one product or one category maybe that's harder to formulate than another?

Nelson: I could start off by saying some of our gummies, there are some actives that go against the gelling chemistry and so you have to, again, make up for it in your formula. And so there are some. Just long story short is that there will be some things like you're like, "Okay, this should work. I'm putting it in there, my normal amounts and everything," and all of a sudden it kind of turns into a... You're like, "What just happened?" So you're like, "Okay, so now you have to look back. Okay, this active is being, kind of, a bad actor against the gelling chemistry, so let's tweak it to get it to work."

Michael: So, I mean, like, going back to your question, it all depends, to be honest. It all really depends. Like, I can have something more difficult in tincture, or something more easy in a lotion, and then maybe a gummy will be more complicated. There's not really a straightforward answer unless when you're actually trying in the lab to figure out how it goes.

So there is no formulation that's hard. I mean, there are formulations harder than the other ones, right? But as, like, different products... I guess it's a difficult question.

Nelson: It kind of boils down to, like, do you have an incompatible chemical...

Michael: Yes.

Nelson: ...with whatever you're trying to make, whether it's a tincture, whether it's, you know, the gel or, I'm sorry, the gummy. If you have an incompatible chemical, it makes it more difficult for you to do what you want to do at the end of the day and get what you want. And especially if the customer wants it a certain way, right? And so when you try to fit and check all the boxes, you have to make sure, "Okay, is this..." Again, it goes back to the technical feasibility we were talking about a little bit ago. So it's like, "Is this possible? So if it is possible, is it what they want at the end of the day?" And so maybe it turns out a little different but it is possible, right? And so that's something you have to have constant communication between customer to us and then us to production.

Michael: Yeah, I mean, you know, we're [inaudible 00:11:21] basically on how to properly do it, but, yeah, you bring a good point about what goes with what. You know, there are some things that naturally don't go with each other. I mean, that's why we're here.

Joe: So I've got to ask, and we've talked about the collaboration and the team experience. With all of your experience, do you ever have that moment where you have come up with a formula that you think is going to taste great or be awesome and then it turns out to be, like, awful or vice versa where you're like, "Oh, that was a... You know, I didn't think it was going to work out but this is actually pretty darn good"?

Nelson: Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Michael: Go ahead.

Nelson: I mean, it's very rare that you get it on the first try, right? And we made some horrible stuff. Like, for example, taste-wise or even texture-wise, it looks horrible. It doesn't look appealing to people, and we do need to try it because the first feedback, it comes from the lab, right, between each other. I'm like, "Hey, try this out. Do you like it?"

The thing is, you know what, taste is very subjective. So something that he likes, I might not like it. So that's why it's kind of cool. Like, we can share like, "Hey, try this. Do you like it?" And then we kind of like have, "Okay, X percent. Like, we have five people that like it, two people that didn't like it." But, yeah, we've made some bad stuff that's not really appealing.

Michael: And that's the fun part, too. Yeah, that is the fun part. Either it doesn't look good, it doesn't taste good. I mean, there's all sorts of things. But like he said, we try to panel that as much as we can...

Joe: Exactly.

Michael: ...in order to get that, you know, overall, is it good or is it not good?

Joe: And some of our newest products are now available for you the customer. If you are listening at home, you can check out some of our newest gummy varieties along the Hemp Bombs line, our new Botanical Blend, and the new Immune Support CBD Gummies with elderberry extract, and obviously look for new products and variations coming soon. I'll have to have more members of our formulation team on the future episode of our podcast, but, Nelson, Michael, thank you both. A lot of great information there.

Nelson: Thank you so much for having us. I appreciate it, man.

Joe: Cranking out some great-tasting and effective CBD products, and I look forward to meeting, as I mentioned, more of the formulation team and learn more about our CBD and CPG products on a future episode of our podcast. As I mentioned, quality manager, Nelson Rodriguez, formulator, Michael Diaz, my guests on this episode of the "CBD University Podcast." And as a reminder, if you have not yet done so, I invite you to subscribe to our podcast. Wherever you receive your podcast, you know, you'll get notifications each week when new episodes are published. You can also watch full video episodes of the "CBD University Podcast" on the Global Widget YouTube channel and the YouTube channels of our brands. You can also subscribe there and get notifications when the new videos are uploaded each week.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, host of the "CBD University Podcast." Thanks for tuning in.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The CBD products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This content is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.