Naturecan, the UK CBD brand born out of Stockport, is celebrating three years in business. We caught up with some of the team to look back on the highlights of the company’s journey so far.
It all started with a lightbulb moment in 2018, when Naturecan co-founder Paul Finnegan had an idea to create CBD and other natural supplements that could help everyone lead a healthier, happier life, free from synthetics.
A year later, the brand sold its first 20 products to 500 customers in ten countries, all with just three employees, and a standalone warehouse.
In 2020, the company began to expand for the first time, growing to three warehouses, 10 employees and 25,000 customers in 25 nations. New products were also introduced at pace, with 100 products available at that time.
In April 2020, Naturecan became a founding member of the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, and the first ACI member to engage with the association’s consultancy services.
In the following year, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Naturecan recruited 30 more people, opened another pair of warehouses and grew its customer base three-fold, catering 200 products to 75,000 customers in 28 countries.
In the spring of 2022, Naturecan appeared on the Food Standards Agency’s list of CBD products and manufacturers which are currently permitted to offer highlighted products, pending full market authorisation.
Now with 58 edible CBD products permitted-for-sale by the UK food safety regulator, the brand is fast approaching another major milestone, as its set to reach 100,000 customers and 250 products retailing in 41 countries.
To mark Naturecan’s third anniversary, we asked CEO and co-founder Andrew Duckworth about the impact the novel foods regulatory process has had on the brand.
“This was another significant milestone for our business and it’s important to recognise our regulatory colleagues who worked so hard on our novel food applications,” Duckworth says.
He added prioritising safety has been paramount to the company’s sustained growth.
“Proving the safety of our products to our valued customers has always been of utmost importance and has been backed by significant investment and regulatory expertise, so it’s satisfying to see our supply chain externally verified.”
Moyra Cosgrove is head of nutrition and external affairs at Naturecan. On the journey so far, she said:
“The process has been complex, lengthy, and at times, challenging, not to mention very costly. However, the Naturecan team has been unwavering in our positivity and thought process from the beginning. The team has always agreed that the health and safety of our customers was the number one priority.”
Cosgrove, who is a Professional Doctorate candidate researching the use of CBD in elite athletes at Liverpool John Moore’s University, adds that the biggest difference between CBD in 2018 and 2022 is the credibility supporting its efficacy.
“Through my research, I meet a lot of health care practitioners, including nutritionists and sports coaches, who are genuinely interested in CBD. And the novel foods regulation has provided more credibility for those professionals, around CBD as a safe nutritional supplement. But there is still an education gap to fill and as part of my research, I am developing a framework to provide this training on CBD. There is certainly a lot more evidence to support CBD as an evidence-based supplement now.”
On natural being best, the nutritionist, who is on the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register, says lab-made cannabinoids are not in the best interests of the consumer.
“While it is possible to make CBD in a lab, it’s not ideal for the consumer as a single ingredient, because consumers then miss out on the combination of benefits the Cannabis sativa plant has to offer.
“The entourage effect means that the combined health benefits provided by other plant constituents in addition to CBD have their own antioxidant benefits. You can only achieve this with a whole plant approach.
“At Naturecan, we prefer to use natural, organically grown plant extracts to give customers the best possible experience and benefits, rather than a synthetic version of one single cannabinoid.”