CBD and nootropics boom: Bod Australia reveals record revenue and expansion aims

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

CBD-based products have been contributing significantly to Bod’s growth. ©Getty Images
CBD-based products have been contributing significantly to Bod’s growth. ©Getty Images

Related tags Cbd Hemp Australia

Australian firm Bod Australia reported a record US$872,240 (A$1.22m) revenue for Q4 2018, due largely to portfolio expansion and new distribution agreements.

The company's Q4 revenue included US$547,760 (A$766,000) in sales — a 260% increase from its Q1 results.

High on innovation

Indeed, CBD-based products have been contributing significantly to Bod’s growth. The company first announced its plans to develop its CBD supplement business last year, with then-newly appointed executive chairman George Livery to drive its medical cannabis strategy​.

Since then, it has developed MediCabilis, a proprietary pharmaceutical-grade cannabis extract that is currently available in bottled oil format through the Special Access Scheme in Australia.

CEO Jo Patterson told NutraIngredients-Asia​: “We’re doing lots of stuff in the cannabis and hemp space. We are developing a nutraceutical product that we will adapt to Australian market, so it will contain hemp seed oil, terpene and a herbal extract.

“We’ve also created another line for the OTC (over-the-counter) market through pharmacies. It contains CBD extract, terpene and a herbal extract, and will be sold in the UK and European markets.

“We’re really at the forefront of what’s going on from a prescription perspective, and we’re also at the forefront in terms of OTC opportunities.”

She also revealed that the firm is considering the possibility of expanding its nootropic line, Pinpoint​, by including CBD extract or hemp seed oil in future formulations.

As there are regulatory restrictions on the use of CBD in Australia, Bod has taken to substituting CBD extract with hemp seed oil in the product formulations it sells in its home country.

Industry has been pushing for these regulations to be eased, so companies like Bod can produce and sell standardised formulations in Australia and overseas.

Until then, however, the firm’s foreign focus remains in the UK and Europe — primarily Germany and Switzerland, and possibly Belgium — where more relaxed laws on CBD use mean greater opportunity.

Patterson said: “CBD has significant health benefits, but so does hemp seed oil, especially as a sustainable source of omega-3.

“They’re currently in oil or standard supplement form, but we are also looking at using our wafer technology for some of these products, which are all for the OTC market. We’re really excited about the level of innovation this will bring to the pharmacy sector.”

Research and revenue

Apart from healthy sales, Bod’s Q4 revenue also included a US$324,020 (A$453,170) R&D grant for a Phase I clinical trial involving its proprietary cannabis-based sublingual wafer supplement.

Marking the world’s first pharmacokinetic evaluation of a full-plant cannabis extract, the trial is testing the safety and tolerability of the product in the bloodstream.

Patterson said, “Because we’re using sublingual wafers, the trial will show not only the efficiency of this delivery system, but also the how the extract enters the bloodstream. We’re coming to the end of that trial and we’ll be able to update the market at the end of Q3.”

The next phase of the trial will assess the product’s absorption rate in comparison to that of MediCabilis in its current oil form.

“We’re looking forward to the outcome of that trial. I think some really good discussion will come from there, and because we have the global rights to the finished product, we’ll certainly be talking to our partners about other opportunities, such as potentially advancing into a Phase II-A trial, where we will start to treat health indications,” ​said Patterson.

Bod was granted a medical cannabis export licence in November 2018 for its sublingual CBD wafer product, permitting the firm to export Australian-made medicinal cannabis products to countries such as the UK and Switzerland.

Domestic deals

Back home, the company has been busy signing distribution deals with local pharmacies.

In September 2018, it entered an agreement with Priceline Pharmacy for the distribution of its pregnancy supplement, MamaCare (which comes in 800g tins and 55g sachets) in more than 200 outlets throughout Australia, with Livery facilitating the deal.

A milk-based supplement designed to support perinatal health, MamaCare is categorised as a food for special medical purposes (FSMP) and is therefore available only at pharmacies.

The firm is currently in talks with Priceline to stock its other supplements, as well as its skincare range.

Q4 also saw Bod striking a deal with Chemist Warehouse, Australia’s largest pharmacy retailer, for the distribution of MediCabilis in 450 nationwide locations.

The agreement also entails Bod running a training and education programme for pharmacy staff on dispensing MediCabilis, updates to domestic regulations, and the health benefits of medical cannabis.

Patterson said, “We’ve formed an alignment with Chemist’s Warehouse to dispense MediCabilis through their network, and we want to support them by assisting their pharmacists in the process of dispensing medicinal cannabis and directing doctors’ enquiries.

“When you have a new drug or supplement to market, what becomes really important is that the right education is in place. If you have a pharmacy you are aligned with, it’s easier to identify whom to support in the area of education.”

Cannabis in the Far East

She also said Bod was confident of continuing sales growth, what with new products, more global sales, and expansion opportunities on the horizon.

However, while the company sees China as its primary Asian target, it has not set a timeline for exporting to the country.

Patterson said: “There’s significant opportunity in China, especially for health products and I think consumers there will be very excited about what we’re doing, but we’re still scratching the surface of such a large market.

“The Chinese have been great adopters of hemp products, but CBD is not yet allowed there, so that does limit us somewhat.”

She added that it would be preferable to build customer loyalty among Chinese consumers in Australia before approaching any potential distributors in China.

“The best pathway to China is through the Australian pharmacy network. We’d like to gain that Chinese following in the domestic market, and we certainly want to sell our products through the e-commerce platform.

“We’re at the beginning of the journey but I believe we have significant opportunity there, especially because Australian-made and sourced health products are well trusted by the Chinese.

“Each market is slightly different in terms of what we can offer, but that’s not stopping us in terms of what we are developing.”

Apart from supplements, Bod is looking to launch an affordable skincare line featuring hemp seed oil and mānuka ​honey this year in Australian pharmacies, and is developing a high-end CBD-based skincare range in for the European market.

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