Through educational efforts ranging from offsite training hosted by CBD vendors to in-store events, Fresh Thyme noted that it “goes above and beyond” to make sure its store associates are well-trained, knowledgeable and able to help customers select CBD products that are right for them.
Specialty grocer Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is ramping up its CBD product selection with nearly 100 new items.
For example, all supplements must be manufactured in a cGMP facility and have a Certificate of Analysis (COA) on every lot number, according to Fresh Thyme. The company said it also requires all CBD manufacturers to include a QR code on their labels so customers can access a CBD product’s COA, which provides information on cannabinoid content. Federal law requires that hemp-derived CBD must contain less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
The new CBD offerings — which will expand the number of CBD products at stores by 65% — include 52 topical health and beauty items, 31 supplements and 16 pet products, carried at Fresh Thyme locations in Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Fresh Thyme introduced CBD products at stores in November 2016. The Downers Grove, Ill.-based chain said that it has since rapidly expanded its CBD assortment in response to shopper demand and input, as the initial two-shelf CBD space grew into an eight-foot display.
“We pride ourselves on providing our customers with a wide product selection and in-store employees who can help educate them on the benefits of CBD,” Lawrence added.
Fresh Thyme said it consults with industry experts to ensure all CBD products meet state and Food and Drug Administration rules and regulations. To that end, the retailer emphasized that it engages in a “thorough and rigorous” review of each CBD vendor and item put on shelves.
“From a basket building standpoint, has CBD been good for us? Absolutely, average retail on a supplement product was roughly $12 four years ago and today it’s closer to $15 and that has a direct correlation with the price point and the kind of CBD products we’re selling.”
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after adding 99 new items (52 health & beauty/topical products, 31 dietary supplements, 16 petcare SKUs) to its existing line of 152 CBD products, Jonathan Lawrence, senior director of grocery & natural living at Fresh Thyme, said “CBD is a hot product, but it’s normalizing.”
Shoppers are becoming more educated about CBD, although some key questions keep coming up, said Lawrence, who launched Fresh Thyme’s CBD set with eight products from CV Sciences, and has since expanded the set to 8-feet.
The top questions are: Will it get me high? Will I fail a drug test? How much should I take?
“It’s brought us some new customers into our stores because we’re a trusted store to try new things and we’ve also seen some shifts in buying from our existing customers, so turmeric and sleep products and a few others are slightly down as people will say try CBD instead for say joint pain, but I think things will balance out and we’re already starting to see that.
He added: “We’re not seeing the huge rapid growth that we’ve seen in the past because we were early pioneers. It’s going to become an everyday product like turmeric or fish oil.
“The top questions we still get asked are, Will it get me high? Will I fail a drug test if there are minute amounts of THC in my CBD products? And how much should I take? The problem is, there’s no clear answer on dosages, it’s not a like a multivitamin where you take two-a-day. Everyone is different and you have to listen to your body to see what works for you.”
Employee training is top of mind, with off-site events hosted by CBD vendors and in-store events to ensure that associates can help shoppers find the most appropriate products.
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is adding 99 new SKUs to its existing line of CBD offerings, for a total of 251 products. Customers at the full-service specialty grocer’s stores in 10 states — Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — will have access to the offerings.
As for Fresh Thyme’s requirements, all supplements must be manufactured in a cGMP facility and require a Certificate of Analysis (COA) on every lot number, and all CBD manufacturers must include a QR code on their labels, which will allow customers to access the product’s COA, which the grocer said is especially important when it comes to CBD, as the certificate lists the quantity of various cannabinoids and the percentage of the product they make up.
Fresh Thyme launched CBD in November 2018, and according to the grocer, what originally took up two shelves has now become an 8-foot display. The 99 new SKUs include 52 health and beauty/topical items, 31 supplements and 16 pet products.
“As we continue our commitment to promoting healthy living, we are excited to announce the expansion of our CBD items in the health and beauty, supplement, and pet product categories,” said Jonathan Lawrence, senior director of grocery and natural living at Fresh Thyme. “We pride ourselves on providing our customers with a wide product selection and in-store employees who can help educate them on the benefits of CBD.”
Downers Grove, Ill.-based Fresh Thyme Farmers Market operates approximately 75 stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.