The bluebird is a symbol of happiness in Chinese mythology and these are certainly happy days at CBD (cannabidiol) maker Bluebird Botanicals. The company is number three in the CBD market according to a comprehensive report from the Brightfield Group and it’s growing quickly. CW Hemp is the number one seller in the market followed by Plus CBD.
Founder & CEO Brandon Beatty said the company has had a record month. “We’ve hired six new employees and are looking to expand even more,” he said. In 2015, Bluebird had sales of $3.75 million, which jumped to $4.9 million in 2016. Beatty said the company is on track to log over $6.5 million in sales for 2017 – a 32% increase. An enviable feat considering the company can’t advertise in traditional channels. Beatty said, “Our growth is organic searching and word of mouth.”
The National Hemp Association values the U.S. hemp market at $600 million, with the majority of that grown outside the U.S. What makes Bluebird unique is that their hemp is grown through the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s hemp pilot program and is also processed in Colorado. So, it’s homegrown hemp.
Bluebird only uses the hemp grown in Colorado for its products, unlike many companies that import the product from other countries. They don’t technically own the farm, but it is a partnership that allows the company to have a seed-to-shelf story. “Consumers are becoming more educated every year and the industry is adapting,” said Beatty. “The source and the quality of the farming play a huge factor in why some companies products work better than others.”
The company was founded in 2012 and began selling products in 2013. Sales began picking up when it sold its first CBD products and was one of the first companies to sell CBD products nationwide. At one time, there were only a handful of sellers and now there are thousands. Not only does Bluebird sell its own branded products, but the company also does a substantial amount of private labeling and white labeling for other companies. It also sells raw extracts. Their Hemp classic is a number one seller along with the CBD capsules. Beatty said that ingestible oils are the biggest sellers.
One complaint from customers in general about the CBD products is that they are expensive and since they aren’t covered by insurance, it’s hard for some people to give the products a try. Beatty said the prices have been coming down and he expects them to continue to drop. “The Hemp Classic product for example, at one point we sold it $90 for 1 oz, now it sells for $24.95. This is a trend that is continuing and we don’t expect to see it slow down in the future,” he said. “We do have assistance programs for veterans, low income and anyone on disability.”
While it sounds like things have been humming along in the right direction, one thing the company has struggled with is its credit card processing. “None of the major banks will work with us. Paypal won’t work with us,” said Beatty “You have to utilize these offshore accounts, typically they’re called aggregate solutions. They bundle purchases and then process them. If they paid us what they processed for us it wouldn’t be such an issue.” He said that Bluebird is owed over a million dollars by four different processors. “We’ll probably get 40% of what is owed to us. We have a couple of lawsuits against them.”
Even with that battle, Bluebird believes that as CBD customers begin reading product labels closely and researching where their hemp CBD is coming from, they will choose home-grown hemp over imported hemp. They are ready for the migration to their seed-to-shelf story.