Commerce City, Colorado

The rapidly growing startup touts research-backed improvements in CBD absorption as a big differentiator in an increasingly crowded market.

Photos courtesy Caliper

After launching its water soluble-cannabis powders in 2016, Stillwater Brands has delved into the CBD business with the spinoff of Caliper as a sister company.

Caliper makes dissolvable CBD powder that can be added to anything. It also has a line of products called Swiftsticks that can be sprinkled directly on the tongue. Swiftsticks, which are similar to Stillwater’s Ripple QuickSticks that contain THC, come in three flavors: Lemon Lime, Mixed Berry, and Cool Mint. Each packet contains 20 milligrams of CBD.

“Our R&D team was able to take the technology from the THC side and bring it over to the CBD side of the business,” says Nicole Maione, Caliper’s general manager of consumer products. “Anything in Caliper foods is industrial hemp. Everything that Caliper Foods uses contains zero THC.”

Caliper CBD was formulated so the body absorbs it quickly and it acts fast. Even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved just one CBD product that’s used to treat seizures, Caliper adheres to the guidelines the agency has issued for food products.

The company clearly labels its products so consumers know exactly what they’re ingesting. Caliper’s powders contain: CBD, or cannabidiol, extracted from hemp, along with coconut-based MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil to keep the CBD emulsion stable; sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar that’s about half as sweet as table sugar; modified food starches derived from non-GMO corn, and natural flavors to mask CBD’s bitter taste.

Maione says it’s important that retailers pay attention to the science behind CBD products to ensure they’re stocking only the best on their shelves. Many CBD businesses spend more money on advertising than on science, but Caliper participated in a Colorado State University study that found its products were absorbed within 10 minutes after ingestion.

“It is truly a unique format,” Maione says. “Tinctures are the market leader, but that’s not the way you want to consume CBD — it’s not a desirable taste. We provide a clean, dissolvable and consistent experience.”

Caliper CBD products are available in about 1,000 stores across the country as well as on the company’s website. Its biggest customer is Circle K. A 30-pack of either Caliper CBD Dissolvable Powder packets or Caliper Swiftsticks sells for $44.99.

“Sales have been great,” Maione says. “Even in 2020 we were able to grow our business.”

Challenges: Despite the 2018 Farm Bill that removed hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration still has not approved CBD in food and beverages. “The most important challenge is getting regulation in this industry,” Maione says.

Opportunities: When retailers are ready to stock ingestible CBD products on their shelves, Caliper is ready to scale up its operations and boost sales. “Our manufacturing process is top-notch,” Maione says. “We have an incredible R&D and manufacturing team with long experience in the food industry and food science. Our building is also scalable.”

Needs: The CBD industry as a whole needs regulation to ensure products are consistent, Maione says. “We want to make sure retailers understand how to vet out high-quality CBD products,” she says. “The FTC [Federal Trade Commission] is really cracking down on CBD brands that are making claims they can’t defend, and fast-acting has become one of those popular claims.”


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