The demand for CBD infusion is growing so fast, it threatens to displace other ingredients, from vitamins to nicotine. As the market for cannabidiol-infused products gets hotter and hotter — to the point that CannaInsider, an industry magazine, published a list of industries “on the verge of CBD disruption” — consumers are looking for more transparency and information about the CBD products they buy, and states are starting to create regulatory frameworks for cannabis products sold within their borders.

Quality and safety testing should be an essential part of your production process for more than simple compliance reasons. If your product is consistently superior to its competitors’ products, why not provide documentation to prove it? A Certificate of Analysis — generally called a COA — will establish your brand as safe, high quality and reliable.

What Is a COA?

A COA is a diagnostic report issued by an accredited independent testing laboratory that performs a battery of tests on a sample of a product. At a minimum, the COA lists the tests performed and the results of those tests. COAs are common in many industries — from food to pharmaceuticals to cleaning supplies.

For CBD products, the tests performed generally include the cannabinoid profile, which includes the amount of CBD, THC, and minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, and CBN present in the sample, and the levels of contaminants present, if any. The lab may also test for the presence and amounts of terpenes and other ingredients included in a specific formula.

Why COAs Are Important in a (Largely) Unregulated Market

One of the challenges in the CBD industry is the lack of industry-wide testing standards. There are currently no standards from the Food and Drug Administration, and some states have set their own standards. How does one determine what is a “passing COA” when the standards are so inconsistent? The US Hemp Authority has taken this on to an extent, but its guidelines are also subject to interpretation. Resellers have little to go on beyond the reputation of the lab conducting the tests and the information provided on the COA itself, and the quality and reputation of the company whose products have been proven to have unquestioned integrity. A company like GenCanna.

GenCanna has solved the problem by setting specifications, or standards, against more restrictive and existing standards, like those put forward by the International Council for Harmonisation (“ICH”) and the Department of Cannabis Control in California. We also manage a specification program that allows you to maintain compliance with the operating standards in your jurisdiction and define your own best practices in the absence of formal FDA guidance. That being said, when manufacturers pair good manufacturing practices with high standards and qualified laboratory testing, the risks are minimized.

1. A CBD COA Says Your Products Are Trustworthy

A COA shows that you’ve submitted your products to be tested by an independent laboratory. It demonstrates that you care about quality, safety and accuracy. It allows your customers to compare your product label with independent test results so they can ascertain for themselves that the ingredients and other information on your labels have been verified by an outside lab.

2. A COA Helps You Stand Out in a Crowded Market

Did you know that 25% of CBD brand manufacturers don’t do any purity testing on their products? That was one of the findings when Leaf Report followed up on its CBD transparency review in August 2021. Of the 131 brands it examined, a full 25% did not include any testing for contaminants, including heavy metals, pesticide residue, mycotoxins and other dangerous toxins. When it comes to potency, Leaf Report found that 84% of products that were tested for potency did not actually meet the potency listed on their labels!

Companies that provide a COA for each of their products — and sell products that actually meet the standards listed on their COAs — get recognized and recommended by organizations like Leaf Report and other consumer awareness organizations.

3. A COA Helps Your Customers Make Better Choices

One often overlooked benefit of a detailed COA is that it helps customers make better choices. Today’s health-conscious consumers are often looking beyond the serving size and milligrams of CBD present in a product in an effort to find products that support their personal health and wellness goals. A COA that lists cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabinol (CBN), in addition to CBD, or the specific terpenes included in the ingredients, can help consumers choose the best product for their needs.

4. A COA Allows You to Connect With Customers’ Desire for Transparency

The desire for more transparency in labeling is driven by consumers who want to know more about the products they’re using and consuming. A 2020 report by the Food Marketing Institute and Label Insight found that 81% of consumers consider transparency very important or important when they’re shopping. They want information on ingredients, certifications and in-depth information about the nutrition of the products they’re consuming. While this report was focused on food, the same trend translates to CBD products, including increasingly popular CBD-infused beverages. Consumers want assurances that your products have been tested and meet high quality and safety standards, and they are more likely to buy them when you offer those assurances. At GenCanna, we maintain full traceability of product from end-to-end, from farm to table.

What Customers Look for in a COA

Once upon a time, the common belief was that consumers were only interested in the amount of THC present in CBD products. That time is long gone. Today’s savvy customers have dug into the research. They want transparency in labeling. They want to know which tests were performed and whether they risk being exposed to heavy metals, mold, pesticides and other contaminants when they use a new product. On the flip side, they’ve read about the entourage effect, as well as research into the effects of various terpenes and minor cannabinoids like CBG. The more information consumers can glean from the COA, the more likely they are to trust a brand or product. At GenCanna, we provide a detailed listing of ingredients so there is total transparency; our customers know our products.

We Make It Easy for You

In most states, dispensaries and retailers are responsible for obtaining their own testing and COAs from certified testing labs. Not us. GenCanna works with you at the “front end” by establishing parameters that meet your needs before we formulate your product, making sure our formulations unequivocally meet those criteria, and providing COAs from independent certified labs that we know to be reputable and accurate.

As the emphasis on safety, testing and transparency continues to grow, manufacturers who provide detailed COAs for their CBD products will be at the forefront of a burgeoning market — and one step ahead of new regulations being formulated and adopted across the country. When you provide the transparency your customers are asking for, you’ll inspire their confidence and their brand loyalty.

Interested in learning more about how GenCanna can help you position your CBD products the right way? Reach out to our team today.

©2021 GenCanna, Winchester, KY
Citizen Truth — What Is a CBD Certificate of Analysis (COA) and How to Read It
Leafly — Cannabis Testing Regulations: A State-by-State Guide
Oregon Liquor Control Commission — CBD Testing Fact Sheet – ICH Guidelines
LeafReport — What Is a CBD Certificate of Analysis (COA) And Why Is It Important to You?
Food Marketing Institute – A New Look at Shopper Transparency Expectations