Joe: On this episode of the “CBD University Podcast,” gummies, gummies, and more gummies. We are Gummy Central. From formulation to manufacturing, there’s a unique expertise and science behind crafting that perfect gummy. Vertical integration, innovation, and commitment to our customers puts us at the center of the gummy industry. This is “The CBD University Podcast,” and it starts right now.

I’m Joe Agostinelli, host to “The CBD University Podcast.” And if you’re a returning listener, welcome back to our podcast. And if you are a new listener, we are glad you found us on your podcast platform of choice. Don’t forget you can catch full video episodes of our podcast on the Global Widget YouTube channel and the YouTube channels of our brands, Hemp Bombs and Nature’s Script.

As the CBD and health and wellness gummy industry continues to grow exponentially, we are taking you into Gummy Central on this episode. So many different varieties, flavors, all with varying benefits. And no matter the type of bite-sized chew, they’re easy to incorporate into your everyday wellness routine.

Did you know we manufacture almost 2 million gummies per day? To tell us all about how we continue to be vertically integrated and expand our technology and innovation to craft that perfect gummy every time is formulator Sara Brown and Business Development Manager, Mac Norton. Welcome both of you back to the podcast.

Mac: Thanks, Joe.

Sara: Thanks

Joe: Mac also has the…although I guess I could say the same. We are the only two people here who have been both a guest and a host on a podcast.

Mac: On both sides. I know, right?

Sara: Oh, yeah. That’s right. Guest hosts.

Joe: But Sara, let’s start off with you. As part of our in-house research and development team, you’re at literally the very start of the process of every gummy and crafting that perfect gummy. Along with our old brands, it’s been a very busy start to the year so let’s talk about some of the newest products along our CBD and health and wellness lines. First of all, we just introduced brand new gummies on our Hemp Bombs line. So what goes into like the new botanical blend or the gummies with elderberry extract that we introduced last month?

Sara: Right. Yeah, we just launched the botanical blend, which is three awesome flavors of the blue raspberry, strawberry and mixed berry that have a great botanical blend with some L-theanine and a little scuttelaria and some passive flora in there that are really good for calming benefits to help with relaxation and things like that. So it’s just it’s a really nice product to help aid in the CBD and the calming effects that it gives.

Joe: And then going on the elderberry extract, we talked about this on a previous podcast, but the immune support gummies on the Hemp Bomb’s line.

Sara: Yeah, the elderberry-infused CBD gummies are awesome. They taste great, and they give you a nice little immune boost for your everyday life. It’s a wonderful gummy.

Joe: And then as we introduced on episode 72 of our podcast, our first health and wellness brand defense boosts for gummies along those lines.

Sara: Yeah, we’ve got a vitamin C, which is really nice. It’s really great flavor, orange flavor. I love that. If want something that helps you sleep some melatonin infuse, you know what I mean. I believe we have also the ACV, so give it help with some digestive health things possibly. And the elderberry also in that without CBD just in case you want something that’s just elderberry.

Joe: And that makes a good transition as we talk about the different varieties available and how we can, you know, what’s the word I’m looking for, meet the requests of any of our private label partners when it comes to gummies. And Mac, you’ve been working with private label brands, and we’ve talked about this before, but when it comes to gummies, you work with so many different requests. Talk a little bit about the vertical integration and how innovation and what we do leads to the efficacy of all our gummies.

Mac: Sure. Yeah. So vertical integration is a term that gets thrown around a lot, and we discussed it in the last podcast I was in. Not guest hosting, obviously, because that was about you, but the one that we were in before, myself and Clay. It really relates to the amount of ground that you can cover as a company, as a company.

So as you think about the different ways that a company’s split up is basically sourcing, where you have your sales, you have the people that are intaking these requests consulting with customers. We have the sales guys sourcing, formulation, manufacturing quality, then you have marketing and data. So what makes us really effective is that at Global Widget is, you know, we have all these brands. Sara just mentioned the gummies that we manufacture here under our own brands, Hemp Bombs, Nature’s Script, Defense Boost.

We had the expertise and the know-how to go through the entire process. So when someone wants to consult with us on the private label side, we understand the ingredients, we understand how to source the ingredients, we understand how to make batches, we understand how to make sure that those batches, at least they understand this, how to make sure that when the batches are set of the gummies, that that’s going to go into a whole production process without a problem because that’s really important for customers too.

So as it relates to efficacy, we have the experience. And what you get with maybe a normal contract manufacturing company has a lot less than that because not only do we have the expertise to talk through formulas and make things like you just explained, but we too know what sells.

We are selling brands out into the market and we’re able to use that data in certain instances and provide that to our customers to say, “Hey, it’s probably a pretty good idea to go with an elderberry gummy or vitamin C gummy.” Ashwagandha is trending, apple cider vinegar is trending, so we can get that data to those customers and help them make educated decisions.

Joe: And you get so many different requests to use certain ingredients. So how do you work with the formulation team especially when a private label brand may come and say, hey, we’re looking for a gummy with, you know, ashwagandha or something specific?

Mac: Yeah. Well, there’s going to be a lot more podcasts, obviously, so there’s a lot on the horizon for us in terms of general R&D. One thing about Global Widget is that when we have the free time, which there’s not a ton of it now, but you know, we’re gonna have more because we’ve made so many investments that we have both personnel and equipment, but we’re always working on new things, right?

And so those requests come in, typically we have a good base formula that we can use. People typically want a gummy that’s gonna be either all gelatine-based or all pectin based. Maybe they want a vegan non-GMO and in certain instances, maybe even organic certified, which is something that we’re really close to being able to do. So when they come to us, we usually have a good balance, a good benchmark of things that we can include. But if not, we’re really good at making new gummies too.

So if someone comes to us with something complex, I really consult with formulations and they say, hey, we need to get with sourcing. Sourcing goes and they find the active ingredients. We get them here to make sure that everything’s fine. We throw it into a gummy, and I would say almost 10 times out of 10, we’re really effective in terms of making a gummy because we know at the onset what’s going to work in a gummy and what’s not. So we’ll also be very realistic.

I can have a very easy conversation with Sara and she can say, look, that ingredient is can work great in gummy. Or she can say, hey, they need to minimize it by 100 milligrams. In which case we help them, we go back to the customer, we consult and we come up with a new formula.

Joe: And Sara on our most recent episodes, speaking of formulas, our podcasts featured…that was episode 75. Our podcast featured two members of your formulation team who you work with frequently. Talk a little bit about the commitment to our customers and turning around large-scale batches of gummies for production quality quickly now.

Sara: Oh God. Yeah. We can take a formula from just “Here’s the specs we want,” to an actual production run in like 30 to 60 days sometimes. I mean, our team is working super hard around the clock, just trying to get all these formulas out to their people, to get approvals, to get moving, to do pilot batches, to do small-scale lab batches like larger-scale lab batches. And then we got a whole step-by-step process to be able to like quickly move and get something from very beginning stages to an actual being run on the gummy line production run. And I mean, we…we’re…we got it down pretty good.

Joe: And Mac, piggybacking off of that, how important is it when we get to the private label space of being able to turn around not only samples, you know, on a large scale to a private label brand quickly but also that not sacrificing the quality of that finished good.

Mac: Sure. Yeah. I mean, it’s viable because these customers come to us and in the consumer packaged goods space, everything is a rush. There’s never a project that people were planning for four years down the road. And even if it is, let’s say two years down the road or a year down the road, that time gets eaten up so quickly between the amount of elements that we have to manage as contract manufacturing because it’s not only the gummies, but it’s the packaging. In some instances, it may be the distribution of the product, so it’s very dynamic.

What we’ve done and a major improvement that we’ve made since we’ve started this division is that we’ve hired a ton of talent. And one thing that I don’t want to allude to too much because you’ll cover it and I know that we’ve talked with some other formulator experts, but companies when they consult with us, they say, where do you get your talent?

And it really starts with Sara, and it starts with some of the lead formulators. You have to train talent, and the only way to do that is to hire people that have a great base level chemical understanding, confectionary understanding, and you train them and we put them through a gummy school. And it’s highly effective because now instead of having maybe three or four people that can formulate a gummy and we’re talking any kind of gummy, now we have seven, eight people that can think consciously about what is going to go into a formula and make sure that things get done.

And that’s really important because when someone gets a bench sample, depending upon if it’s an existing formula or a previous formula, almost always you’re going to want to try a second iteration. And so we’re usually making one gummy as a test, and they’re saying, “Hey, could you tweak the flavor a little bit? Hey, could you add a little bit more of this active ingredient? We just saw a study on 5-HTP. Could you add that active to this gummy?” So we’ll go back and we’ll reformulate.

And it’s really important to have that expertise and that knowledge and more bandwidth essentially via the people that work on the gummies so you can just kick out more formulas because if you can do things faster and stay effective, which we do because we have a whole quality control process.

Sara and some other formulators inspect every single gummy before it leaves. We as sales guys inspect every single gummy. And I’m talking about the R&D gummies, not the ones that get produced in the back, but by the time it’s back there, we’d done all of our stuff. We look at these things consciously and make educated decisions about, “Hey, this is something that the customer is going to like.” And then we have the facts and so we know where it’s going to work. So it’s really crucial for our success and we’ve done an excellent job.

Joe: And I’m going to piggyback off a couple of things you mentioned. I’ll ask S Sara first and then we’ll circle back with you on something, but talk a little bit about the expertise and the experience of our in-house teams and how that contributes to staying on top of the latest trends in working with private label brands on innovative products for their customers.

Sara: Oh, we’re all always doing research on the up like newest coming out products and things that people are, you know, things that are trending or things that people are really starting to want.

So every week we all have a day to spend just doing straight-up research on new ingredients, new formulations, new types of gummies, and industry things that are going on that we want to possibly bring into our line of gummies. So we have a great team of really experienced chemists that are very knowledgeable, like we’ve been saying this whole time, that are capable of doing that research and bringing it out in their products.

Joe: And as you mentioned, there’s something you said, oh, you read a study the other day and then started, you know, using that in a request. So how important is it to stay on top of the latest industry trends especially with the requests that come in from private label brands?

Mac: Sure. I mean, I think the mark of a company that’s doing a good job in  but if I’m in a conversation, I could think back a couple of weeks where a customer said, “Hey, how much of X gummy are you working on? How much apple cider vinegar gummies have you done?”

And I’m checking on the call because, you know, we make a ton of apple cider vinegar gummies, and it could be a little bit more specific than that. “How many gummies have you made that have ashwagandha in them?” Which is another trending botanical. We make a ton of those. So it’s really important to be on the forefront because we’ve already got experience with the ingredient.

And I can tell a customer from the onset, “Hey, as a sales guy, having already worked on these projects, I know because Sarahas the expertise, this is too much ashwagandha to fit into a gummy. It won’t work, it won’t be stable.” So we need to tell that back.

So one really great thing is that we have these resources here at Global Widget where I can go back and talk about some things, but we’re really diverse, we do a really good job. We have all the data that we need to make educated decisions, and we’ve done a really good job.

Joe: Sara, is there anything I didn’t cover? I think we’ve covered just about everything.

Sara: I mean, one thing that allows us to keep our gummies like just as a stable and very good quality gummy is we’re also doing all these stability studies concurrently, as that’s what gives us our fast pace, is that the minute that we start formulating something, we’re already trying to start the stability studies on those gummies to make sure that we can ensure that the customer’s going to know that in a year or two years, that gummy is still going to be a very good gummy.

Joe: And that’s probably a very important point to make is despite how quick things can scale, we still don’t sacrifice…

Sara: We still do have everything we need.

Joe: The compliance, the safety and the effectiveness of the product [crosstalk] and third-party lab testing.

Sara: Absolutely.

Joe: I would agree with that. I would just add one point that’s really important to say, you know, the kind of customers that we’re servicing, we have our own brands here and I think it’s clear from the information that you’ve given on the podcast. I mean, we’re in, you know, I don’t know what the specific number is, 30,000 retail locations, VR brands. We’re in two or three times as much via the private label in terms of brands we manufacture for.

They need the confidence in us to say, “Hey, we want to move quick along this process but by the time you manufacture a finished product and it’s sold in let’s say Target or Walmart or any other major retailer, that we can be very confident in the quality that you guys have provided us and that everything that’s in the gummy is supposed to be in the gummy and that it’s free of any residual solvents, mycotoxins, pesticides, anything that would compromise the product.”

And Sarah brings up a really good point, and that it’s stable too, because outside of knowing that there’s wholesome ingredients in there and that everything’s mash, you want to make sure that if this product is going to sit on the shelf for 10 months, 12 months, 18 months, that it’s going to be a stable product and that we can tell the customer, “Hey, you know what, if this is going to sit on a shelf for two years, potentially, you’re gonna have a gummy that’s as good as the gummy that you would have had if it was month one of the shelf life.”

Joe: And somebody may be hearing this for the first time to think “Boy, two years on the shelf,” but we talked about this on a previous episode where that’s the shelf life you look for as a two-year shelf life.

Sara: That’s our goal of every gummy is to try and get it to the two-year shelf life. Absolutely.

Joe: Well, Sarah and Mac, thank you for talking to our listeners and our viewers all about Gummy Central and everything we’re doing here from formulation to the finished product. Thank you both for appearing on the podcast and certainly a lot more to come I think in the coming months on this topic.

Sara: Absolutely.

Mac: Thanks, Joe.

Joe: Mac Norton, Sarah Brown, my guests on this episode of the “CBD University Podcast.” And for more information or how we are Gummy Central, visit our Global Widget YouTube channel for informational videos. You’ll see behind-the-scenes videos and get an up-close look at what is at the center of our gummy manufacturing process and team, and what makes us Gummy Central.

I’m Joe Agostinelli, host of “The CBD University Podcast” and our reminder that if you have not yet done so, please subscribe to our podcast wherever you get your podcasts, and you’ll get notifications each week when new episodes are published. And don’t forget full video episodes on the Global Widget YouTube channel and the YouTube channels of our brands. 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 podcast is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.

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.