CURE’s proprietary blend of CBD and functional herbal ingredients is the common denominator in all of its products, which range from beverages to gummy supplements.
The brand is currently available at more than 2,500 retail stores across the US, including drugstores, pharmacies, grocery and health food stores, and via its website.
Expansion into Asia is on the horizon, with Japan being the company’s first venture.
It is partnering with Hirokazu Yamura, President and CEO of Michinoku Coca-Cola Bottling Co, who has successfully brought other US brands to Asia previously, to break into the Japanese market.
“The CBD market in Japan is rapidly growing and forecasted to reach over USD600m in sales by 2025. Yamura and his team will develop our go-to-market strategy, from manufacturing to commercialisation, distribution and marketing. Having the right partner is super crucial in this new space, and we have been able to achieve that.
“While Japan is relatively open to CBD-related products, it is still very strict on THC. We fit aptly into this, as our company has always focused on the benefits of CBD and not incorporating other psychoactive cannabinoids [like THC] into our products, unlike some other companies in the US,” Saf Sadiq, CEO of CURE, told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Sadiq believes that CURE’s products would be “greatly suited” for Japanese consumers and their fast-paced lifestyle.
“Based on observations about their buying habits, Japanese consumers are shopping for products with functional ingredients to get the best benefit out of a food or beverage. Our line-up includes wellness shots, gummies and sparkling water, which we are confident would do well in this market.”
The company aims to launch CURE in Japan by April this year. It is in the midst of ensuring its products and labels are compliant to local regulations and requirements.
Apart from the same sales channels adopted in the US, the brand is also looking to enter sporting goods stores in Japan through its newly developed CBD-infused topical range.
“We are heavily invested in taking the market by storm, and we have a strong strategy to ensure the success of it. Our partners in Japan speak for themselves in terms of their experience, so I think we will be able to accomplish our goal to become the most trusted CBD wellness brand in Japan.”
Attention on Asia
In addition to Japan, the company plans to capture nascent CBD consumers across Asia, including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and South Korea.
“Even though regulations do not allow CBD products to be sold in some of these countries yet, we are seeing consumer demand for them. For example, I was at a CBD-focused expo in Thailand and the biggest group of attendees came from India, where it’s still a grey area when it comes to CBD.
“We are keeping a close eye on Thailand as its CBD market develops. We also intend to expand to other parts of Asia as soon as the governments are open to accept ingredients like ours,” Sadiq shared.
To cater to these markets, CURE is coming out with formulations that are “more friendly” in abiding by the local laws.
“We may be able to expand to these countries sooner by focusing on other key ingredients, but our brand messaging about functional wellness will be consistent. We are confident that we can still make effective and quality products without CBD for a certain time period until that is allowed.”
Beyond regulatory barriers, one of the firm’s biggest challenges is identifying its target consumer demographic.
“We offer premium products created from proprietary plant-positive formulas that cannot be easily replicated without the right technology or partners. Therefore, when we enter a market, we want to make sure that there are end consumers to buy our products.
“There’s been a lot of noise, but not a lot of focused energy in actually educating consumers on what this category is and what CBD products can do. Our goal is to take the bulk of that responsibility, putting in strong efforts to engage consumers and let them try our products in a very safe manner.”
Despite these hurdles, Sadiq remains optimistic about future development of the CBD sector, as well as the functional food and beverage category.
“The consumption of functional foods is increasingly popular, and we aspire to be a leader in this space. We’re not limited to just CBD, but also all kinds of great plant-based ingredients, which can lead to many new innovations down the road.
“Many people see North America — Canada specifically — and Europe as the next big markets for CBD. But I believe they have underestimated the Asian market, especially with the region making up more than half of the world’s population.
“There needs to be more attention paid [to Asia] from suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and even investors. That is how we can collectively grow this market, and push for the right products and the right people to get behind it so that the industry would thrive.”