By Emily Ledger
Soft drink giant PepsiCo has announced the launch of a new hemp seed-infused energy drinks in the US market, following relative success in Germany last year. The hemp extract is combined with a number of other herbals to promote relaxation.
The selection of Rockstar ‘Unplugged’ drinks contains hemp seed oil, spearmint, lemon balm and a reduced amount of caffeine. However, the soft drinks contain no CBD – the non-intoxicating cannabinoid that has been found to have a number of therapeutic potentials.
Fabiola Torres, PepsiCos’s general manager and chief marketing officer of the Rockstar brand said of the drinks: “it’s a combination of herbals that can help us to relax, but not to sleep.”
Each 12oz can of Rockstar ‘Unplugged’ will contain only 80mg of caffeine, compared with other versions of the brand’s energy drinks which contain between 160 and 300mg of caffeine.
According to PepsiCo, it is hoped that the new drink will help to attract younger, female consumers. A report by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recently found that men between the ages of 18 and 34 were the largest group of consumers for energy drinks in the US.
In April last year, PepsiCo launched its Rockstar Energy + Hemp in Germany – a significant market in Europe. However, the new ‘Unplugged’ iteration of the drink has taken the concept one step further, leaving out a significant amount of caffeine.
″[Hemp seed] doesn’t have any functionality, it comes from an herb,” Torres said. “Imagine you’re drinking an herbal tea, with caffeine. That’s it.”
Nonetheless, the omission of CBD might be considered a strange move by the global drinks producer, given the popularity of the product. However, there are good reasons to stay out of the CBD business for the time being.
In the US, it is currently illegal to sell CBD-infused food and drinks across state lines. Furthermore, the market for CBD drinks remains extremely small in the states, despite the cannabinoid enjoying growing popularity in other areas.
“This is new territory, so we’re trying to test and learn and really have fun with it,” Torres said.
In comparison, hemp extracts aren’t subject to any of these restrictions – thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill which essentially legalised hemp at the federal level.
The drinks will be available in three flavours: blueberry, passion fruit, and raspberry cucumber.