Naturally Splendid (TSXV:NSP,OTCQB:NSPDF,FWB:50N) CEO Craig J. Goodwin says the global shift towards plant-based foods makes his company and investors well-positioned for long term success.

For over a decade, Naturally Splendid has been involved in the development of plant-based products with a particular focus on the hemp plant. “The journey that we started a decade ago, was, in fact, the right path. We see all the right trends and all the right market indicators to keep on this path,” said Goodwin.

As part of this strategy, Naturally Splendid recently partnered with one of Australia’s most popular plant-based manufacturers, BettaLife Global Food Solutions, to arrange for sale and distribution of the company’s plant-based products in North America. Naturally Splendid intends to market the BettaLife product line under its NATERA™ brand.

According to Goodwin, Naturally Splendid’s aim is to leverage BettaLife’s manufacturing experience and processes in order to establish similar facilities in its target market. “North America is the world’s largest plant-based protein market in the world. Our friends in Australia are strategic partners and very experienced operators. We have the advantage of being able to duplicate what has been successful for them in their manufacturing facility so that we can be miles ahead by leveraging a well-established blueprint,” said Goodwin. “Afterwards, our speed to market and the variety that we will be able to produce out of our own facility will give us a competitive advantage.”

The growing trend towards plant-based foods has largely focused on replacing beef, specifically the beef found in burger patties. According to Goodwin, Naturally Splendid intends to continue to develop a variety of offerings that are designed to cater to consumers of all dietary preferences, including those that simply wish to make healthier diet choices.

For a comprehensive update from Naturally Splendid CEO Craig Goodwin, watch the video above.

Keep reading... Show less

Crop yield is a useful metric when measuring the scale and success of a cannabis cultivation operation. 

Cannabis companies with large-scale greenhouses love to talk about the size of their operations, however, recently cannabis companies have begun to focus on measuring cannabis crop yield as a more important performance indicator. Grow space numbers are often impressive and easy to understand, but they don’t necessarily tell the full story. Major cannabis cultivation facilities are often economies of scale that prioritize quantity over quality, resulting in a standardized end product that can be produced at large volumes.

In Canada, demand for high-quality cannabis has created an opportunity for craft cannabis producers that specialize in offering cannabis products grown in small batches in order to ensure the greatest quality. These operations often focus on unique strains capable of producing unique effects and can require extra attention when compared to large-scale cannabis production operations. For craft cannabis companies that have embraced a smaller operational footprint, yield can be a critical metric when analyzing how efficiently the company is utilizing its cultivation space.

pacroots logoThis INNspired Article is brought to you by:

  PacRoots Cannabis (CSE:PACR) is a British Columbia-based Cannabis Act licensed applicant dedicated to producing premium-quality cannabis products based on high-end selectively bred genetics.Send me an Investor Kit

Artificial selection and cannabis production variables

In order to grow a premium cannabis product, cultivators aim to design and implement efficient systems capable of controlling every possible input. For cultivators, there are a number of variables at play that can greatly influence the quality of the resulting product, beginning with the strain selected. Cannabis strains all contain the genetics of their “parent” plant. These genetic properties are passed down from generation to generation, enabling cultivators to select and reproduce the plants that produce the optimal traits for each desired use. This process is referred to as artificial selection and has been commonplace in farming for centuries.

Once a strain is selected for production, there are a number of factors during the cultivation process that can influence the yield and quality of the resulting product. Facility design, lighting, irrigation, air quality and soil quality can all play a significant role in the resulting plant depending on the properties of the strain being grown. Due to the unique properties of cannabis strains commonly grown around the world, the growing conditions must be adapted to the preferences of the strain being grown. Each strain can respond differently to environmental inputs, leaving growers to fine-tune their operations based on the desired result. For example, according to Leafly strains such as Hash Plant and Critical Kush are known to grow into smaller plants, while strains like OG Kush and many “OG” varieties require specific nutrients with a higher quality of calcium and magnesium in order to return the best quality flower.

To many in the cannabis industry, the size and setup of a cultivation facility can have a major impact on the quality of cannabis grown there. The larger the grow space, the harder these inputs are to control, and the harder it is to keep the facility clean of pests and pathogens. According to Flowr CEO Vinny Tolia, the decision to optimize cultivation is a key aspect of the company’s business strategy. “Our entire thesis is based on maximizing yield and thereby reducing the marginal costs of production using purpose-built, highly efficient and extremely clean indoor growing facilities,” Toila told INN in 2019. Flowr is one of Canada’s leaders in cannabis crop yield according to Sean Williams of Nasdaq.com.

Cannabis companies optimizing crop yield

There are a number of cannabis companies taking different approaches to optimize quality and yield, with licensed producers and researchers coming together to improve the overall potential of the industry. Upstream at the strain selection level, Canadian cannabis company PacRoots Cannabis (CSE:PACR) has formed a strategic partnership with cannabis breeder Phenome One to give PacRoots access to some of the world’s best cannabis genetics. Phenome One holds the licenses to over 350 strains with varying remedial benefits, making it one of the largest genetic cannabis libraries in Canada.

“By filtering through as many as 600 plants in order to derive a specific phenotype, Phenome One allows us to tailor elite cultivars that can be designed for both indoor and outdoor cultivation,” said PacRoots CEO Patrick Elliott. “Cultivators demand the efficiency to produce better yields and products for the end-user while maintaining product integrity and potency. Suitable genetics, articular process, and data collection to optimize yield for specific climates are essential to compete in this new global cannabis industry.”

At the cultivation level, innovative tech companies including SunPath are working to improve the capabilities of the cannabis industry through its patented collection of fiber optic technologies that are capable of delivering 10 times the energy of traditional PV solar panels that drive LEDs. The company believes improving the artificial light used to grow cannabis plants has the potential to reduce operating costs while improving plant growth.

Takeaway

The cannabis supply chain offers a number of opportunities for innovative companies to optimize conditions in order to deliver the best possible product. For traditional cannabis cultivators, there are a number of critical factors that inform the cultivation process, from upstream influences such as the strain and its genetics to downstream influences such as growing conditions, fertilizer, and water quality.

Keep reading... Show less

Chemesis International (CSE:CSI,OTCQB:CADMF) President Josh Rosenberg is a 27-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, including experience working with major brands such as Coca-Cola and a number of its global brands and products.

Rosenberg has worked at all levels of the Coca-Cola organization, moving his way up from “street to suite” to become a leader in the CPG space. After spending 18 years with the company, Rosenberg moved outside of CPG when he stepped into ownership at Accent Food Services, a multi-state convenience services company bringing fresh food, snacks, beverages, and convenience items the last mile. Rosenberg is active with the board and serves as Chairman of the National Automatic Merchandising Association for the convenience services industry. In 2018, Rosenberg decided to expand on his CPG and distribution experience by moving into the cannabis industry, where he felt his experience at Coca-Cola could be leveraged to improve cannabis-based operations.

According to Rosenberg, a focus on the customer is one of the most critical aspects of the CPG experience. Under his leadership, Rosenberg is working to develop an operational playbook at Chemesis that can be easily replicated and scaled across the United States. Part of this strategy includes the company’s unattended retail operations, which are designed to create a frictionless consumer experience without the need for a retail employee.

Investing News Network: Can you give our audience some background on your experience?

Chemesis President Josh Rosenberg: I am a 27-year CPG distribution sales executive. I grew up in the Coca-Cola system, spending 18 years there. I started out as a merchandiser. I was hired during the Kentucky Derby in Louisville Kentucky as a freshman in college. I was going to school to be an educator and got a six-week temporary job. They had such high turnover and people left quickly because of the difficulty of the work, so I have done it all. I have done merchandising, route driver, delivery from entry-level sales, and account management operator. I ran large operating regions and business units including manufacturing and supply chain management strategy. My time at Coke gave me a diverse background. I am proud of my experience in both sales & marketing, commercial strategy, operations and manufacturing. As I got into executive leadership, I led the consolidation of Coca-Cola’s decentralized call center. That gave me an early understanding of technology, specifically in how technology can really enable business through project management.

I was able to go down to Atlanta for a few years through some business consolidation. I actually spent three years in our commercial leadership group. That group is responsible for taking any new brand, or product, or equipment initiatives and pushing them through to the execution field. Those three years transformed my whole career because I had access to our international business. It was a North America-led position in which I participated in building commercial execution for brands, channels, and customers. This included participation in onboarding of multiple acquired brands, many of which are now billion-dollar-plus brands.

I started on the bottler side, then the Coca-Cola Company acquired us. I was privileged to be one of the 48 people that spent 18 months in a think-tank, a white wall room designing the new Coca-Cola that shaped the Coca-Cola that exists today. That was amazing because I had my hand in redesigning a 125-year-old brand, again, a great global perspective really connects the old Coke in the old way of life of how coke reached consumers to the way consumers shop today. It is just unbelievable that I got to do it there.

I joined the board of Chemesis in September. I really got involved in the business strategies, pushing and challenging the norm of what a cannabis business was and what everybody thought it should be. Whether it was focused on manufacturing or extraction, nobody was talking about the consumer. I thought that was a big gap. I am focused on the consumer side. What is our retail strategy? How are we going to go to the market? How are we going to connect with the consumer, help the consumer navigate the unknowns of the cannabis plant, and how they might best use it? How do we put it in a place where it is secure, it is a confident purchase, it is an educated purchase, and it is a thing the customer wants to do over and over again?

INN: Considering the changes in cannabis globally, how is Chemesis unique?

JR: Consumer focus. We are a consumable. My background is from the street to suite and it was in almost every element of the Coca-Cola ecosystem, which exists in the cannabis space and in the seed-to-sale vertical that we own at Chemesis. You have to understand the life cycle of the consumable product that we are trying to get in the hands of consumers. How do we optimize costs on the backside? Everything up until that point of purchase is an opportunity to make money and lean principles have to be applied.

One thing that makes Chemesis unique and bold is that at the beginning of this year, the company made a change to our business plan. We are spinning out Colombia because of the unique Latin American consumer & regulatory market, and the difference in go-to-market approach within that country, and we are putting a majority of our efforts into Puerto Rico where we have true seed-to-sale with a dispensary, and we are driving dollar growth.

We fundamentally believe the heart of what we do is the voice of the consumer. We have to be able to recruit them. Once they recruit, we have to be able to understand them and give them the right product, in the right place, at the right price, at the right time. Then we have to recruit, retain, and grow our share of wallet with our consumer base. That is a traditional Coke or CPG brand tool that has been used from the beginning. How do I get them into the buy ecosystem and then get them to spend more money once they are there in the life cycle that they consume? We are doing a lot of really cool things to create that consumer experience and test and validate it, ensuring that we are constantly meeting and understanding the voice of the consumer so that we can own their loyalty.

INN: How has your MSO strategy evolved and where does your expertise come into the picture?

JR: I went from a single facility all the way to national and global responsibility, so I understand a diverse marketplace. There is not a one-size-fits-all because consumer demographics change, regulations will change, and location preferences will change, all based on where you operate.

We’ve got a great strategy for multi-state operations. First of all, let’s get our playbook right. This is how we want the quality of our products and this should be the cost base of our products, whether we do it directly, own the manufacturing, or whether we outsource. We have the ability to be going to new states to look and see how far along they are in their development curve. If there is a really good manufacturing practice there. Do we need to really invest our capital there? Or do we need a partner? We have to think about our decision trees. First and foremost, we do not deviate from our brand but we apply our brand strategy based on the local regional demographic regulatory and compliance landscape.

What we love about that is, with our playbook and with the use of technology, our customer CRM, we have a customer relationship model. We have engaged a call center partner to stay engaged and help educate, recruit and retain our customers. We have a loyalty platform. Then it is just a matter of evolving the brand experience model. That is where the levers come into play. Each one of the levers helps build upon the consumer experience with our brand. This creates stickiness with the consumer. We want to be a value-driven leader in manufacturing all the way up to consumption because the market is evolving. As the market is evolving both in function and form, we have to be able to make sure our consumers know that Chemesis is a trusted advocate and the consumer can depend on us to be there at the right time and right place.

INN: Can you tell us about the company’s unattended retail strategy?

JR: In my last decade at Coke, I was branded the unattended retail guy. Nobody else wanted it. They did not want to touch it. It has a high cost of capital. Everybody was focused on Food Service and Big Box Retail. Walmart, Kroger’s, Safeways, that’s where you stack it high and let it fly. Then you have this little guy over here, Josh, that manages one percent of the overall company business. But every single consumer interaction was the only time that we had a direct transaction with the consumer.

Until e-commerce, the only way that Coca-Cola interacted directly with their consumers was through an unattended vending machine. Back then, vending technology trailed traditional retail consumer engagement. Now, through technology and consumers’ preference for convenience, the market has evolved. If you think about unattended experiences, how long ago did you go to the counter at an airport to check-in or do anything relevant to your flight? How many times do you go into your bank versus the ATM? Or mobile check-in or mobile deposit or mobile interactions? I can go on and on all day about the unattended transaction world that we live in, yet when it comes to consumables, we are stuck on this idea that consumers want to get in their car, go to a location, wait in line, and deal with the public. Especially during a pandemic, it doesn’t make sense.

What we have been able to do is put all that in a box. The digital component of it can educate, advertise, and create impulse or influential buys. It can bring people in. The touchless transaction is safe. The education through our automated attendant and the use of artificial intelligence is remarkable. I can ask “Vicki” (our auto-bot) any question, anything I need in a private manner in order to understand what I am about to transact.

It increases my ability as a brand owner to promote and know the individual consumer profile. When I walk up to that machine, that machine knows me individually. I can target market brands, which is incredible for the consumer experience. It is going to know once I enter our unattended retail store, the automated budtender will have all my history. Vicki knows when I shopped, categories I purchased, brand, and total dollar spend. From this data, our AI can promote products through highlights, videos, and promotions to extend the consumer’s experience. By exposing the consumer to relevant products, we are better positioned to capture a greater share of wallet and most importantly, create a better consumer experience.

INN: What is Chemesis’ main focus for the remainder of 2020?

JR: My operations team and partners are really focused on continuous improvement with stretch goals to monetize as much of our operating expenditures as they can from just lean operating principles, automation, and clearly defined metrics. By the fall, our operational unit down in Puerto Rico will have transformed. Our operational gains will put dollars back in our business. By the end of the year, we will start to take this playbook back and apply it to our other operating units.

2020 started off with a capital raise of $2.6m where we were able to begin to optimize our operations. In addition, the company has filed a Regulation A offering that we expect to close in 2020. That is going to help increase our capital contribution to put back into some of these initiatives and optimize our operations. We also have some dollars set aside for M&A that the consumer marketing side and capital necessary to deploy our ViaTouch strategy.

The dispensary side will have finished our remodels and created our brand look and feel within our dispensary business. So we really got that dialed in as far as our consistent consumer experience when they walk in the store. Then lastly, ViaTouch, the VICKI, we are looking to start, beginning with this next month, to place around twenty a month. We are starting to get a lot of traction. The pandemic has impacted our ability to engage our team, customers, and consumers. Everyone had to adapt to a new norm which we believe worked in our favor. A touchless, unattended retail experience opens the door for us to accelerate placements. Retailer response while paused, is now accelerating with great anticipation. So whether it’s independents or chains, we see a real, great growth opportunity on our CBD side with Via Touch and really optimizing that platform. So place some equipment, increase our footprints in stores, build our brand, optimize our operations. Now we take that playbook and will be ready as we go into 2021 so we can apply it against the M&A strategy and make our entry into existing markets stronger.

Keep reading... Show less

The proliferation of legal cannabis across North America has underscored the importance of cannabis genetics and artificial selection.

The legalization of cannabis across major jurisdictions in North America has created a new marketplace for consumer goods. In the modern cannabis industry, we have seen exponential growth in product diversity, including innovative concentrated forms such as oils, soft gel pills, shatter and vape pen cartridges. When it comes to the cannabis flower itself, which also serves as an input for oils and concentrates, the quality and genetic makeup of each strain have become even more important, with major corporations and innovative cannabis companies working to improve their base product. Driven by cannabis connoisseurs and medical users in need of strains that produce unique remedial effects, the legalization of the cannabis industry has caused an explosion of innovation when it comes to cultivating the optimal cannabis plant.

Driven by this product variety, a number of cannabis cultivators and researchers have begun creating uniquely-tailored strains optimized for each particular use-case through the process of artificial selection. Artificial selection has been common practice in farming for centuries, with farmers routinely selecting the best plants and breeding their superior genetics after each crop rotation to improve the following harvest. In the cannabis space, the art of artificial selection and marker-assisted breeding have enabled cultivators to optimize the size, color, smell, density and texture of the resulting cannabis crop. The diversity of cannabis strains currently known to cultivators and researchers has created a new field within the cannabis industry, with licensed producers working alongside researchers and product designers to optimize strains for their unique use-cases and subsequent requirements.

pacroots logoThis INNspired Article is brought to you by:

  PacRoots Cannabis (CSE:PACR) is a British Columbia-based Cannabis Act licensed applicant dedicated to producing premium-quality cannabis products based on high-end selectively bred genetics.Send me an Investor Kit

Cannabis genetics and artificial selection

You don’t have to be a master grower to understand that premium-quality flower is necessary to create premium-quality cannabis concentrates. Just as premium grapes are necessary to create the finest wines, so too are premium flowers a necessary input to create a quality concentrate product. “The starting material is the most important factor in determining the end quality of each extraction. A cannabis plant’s genetics are the starting material and hold extreme value for each strain to reach its potential,” said Will Hyde, cannabis strain specialist and co-host of Leafly’s “What Are You Smoking?” podcast. In addition to the optimal effects enjoyed by recreational uses, the emergence of the medical cannabis market has further emphasized the importance of artificial selection in pursuit of medical strains designed for specific medical needs.

When it comes to quality cannabis flower, consistency is paramount. Due to regulatory requirements and product standards commonly found in North American cannabis markets, major cannabis brands with large-scale operations often select consistent, high-quality cannabis strains for their product lines. The effect, potency, aroma, taste and yield of a cannabis crop can all largely be informed by genetics. “Genetics hold the key to your bud’s effects, flavors, vigor and growth attributes,” said Hyde on his podcast. “Every strain carries a unique genotype that serves as a blueprint for its growth, as well as a specific phenotype that is influenced by its environmental factors and affects a range of strain attributes like color, smell, structure and potency.”

Cannabis genetics enabling strain development

Strategically-minded cannabis producers have recognized the importance of genetics, with a number of licensed producers across the continent working to secure the strains and genetics that can be applied to unique new product designs. In British Columbia, upstart cannabis company PacRoots Cannabis (CSE:PACR) has finalized an agreement to collaborate with cannabis experts at Phenome One, with complete access to the company’s database of over 350 unique cannabis strains that have been carefully field-tested and artificially selected over 30 years of research. “This is a major opportunity for PacRoots to be positioned to offer customers an extensive collection of cannabis cultivars. At PacRoots, we pride ourselves and our customers with quality and we are thrilled with the opportunity to partner with Phenome One, establishing a robust strain portfolio that compares favorably with others in the Canadian cannabis space,” said Patrick Elliott President and CEO of PacRoots.

Phenome One’s extensive database includes proprietary high-THC strains, cannabidiol-dominant strains with rare terpene profiles, and custom strains finely tailored for medical purposes. Moving forward, PacRoots intends to leverage Phenome One’s intellectual property relating to the growing, breeding, and cloning of cannabis cultivars to optimize its offerings. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on efficient operations in the cannabis industry, which PacRoots believes could cause cannabis companies to focus on the genetic profile of their inputs. “The ‘new normal’ has amplified our business, as cultivators demand the efficiency to produce better yields and products for the end-user while maintaining product integrity and potency. Suitable genetics, articular process, and data collection to optimize yield for specific climates are essential to compete in this new global cannabis industry,” said Elliott.

Major producers such as Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC,TSX:WEED) have long recognized the importance of cannabis genetics in establishing efficient operations. “You can get more yield off of a plant if you can refine the genetics and that allows us to have more grams, more kilograms coming out of this place per year,” said Jordan Sinclair, Canopy Growth’s vice president of communications, during a 2019 interview at the company’s Tweed Farms operations. Following in the footsteps of major producers like Canopy, cannabis genetics specialists such as PacRoots have an opportunity to secure a unique foothold in the cannabis industry by applying science at the greenhouse level.

Takeaway

Whether for medical or recreational use, cannabis companies of all sizes are working to optimize cannabis strains to produce effects tailored to specific use-cases. At the cultivation level, the artificial selection of cannabis strains has also enabled companies to maximize the size of their crops, enabling more efficient operations with every harvest.

This article was originally published by the Investing News Network in July 2020. 

Keep reading... Show less

BioHarvest Sciences (CSE:BHSC) CEO Ilan Sobel recently joined the Investing News Network to discuss the company’s unique biofarming technology and how it can be used to create plant-based products including cannabis and the company’s patented superfood product VINIA®.

BioHarvest Sciences’ biofarming technology is designed to isolate the active ingredients from the original plant, extracting it for production in a biofarming process. The company’s biofarming technology enables the extraction of plants including the cannabis plant without the need for any solvent for extraction.

“When you look at the biofarming technology, we have the capability to be able to take any active ingredient from any plant or any fruit and to be able to grow a cell with that active ingredient. In addition, we’re able to increase the level of that active ingredient in our cell,” said Sobel. “In 21 days we’re able to grow the cells and when it gets to the appropriate weight after those 21 days we are then able to take those wet cells and convert it into a dried powder and you have a unique composition.”

Moving forward, BioHarvest Sciences intends to pursue the development of cannabis strains that can be optimized using the company’s biofarming technology in order to produce specific remedial effects. BioHarvest Sciences has successfully created cannabis trichomes during the suspension phase, which it believes is a critical milestone towards the optimization of its biofarming process.

Keep reading... Show less

Next Green Wave Holdings Inc. (CSE:NGW; OTCQX:NXGWF) CEO Mike Jennings was recently featured in an interview with Forbes regarding his interest in the cannabis industry, his family history in the industry, and the future of Next Green Wave. Jennings’ father was a pioneer in cannabis cultivation, which inspired Jennings himself to enter the industry.

Jennings also touched on Next Green Wave’s recent success in the United States, where the company continues to expand its product portfolio in an effort to capitalize on recent demand. According to Jennings, the company has experienced strong sales in 2020, forcing the company to adapt in order to find new sources of supply for its products. “The main obstacle we have in the short term is supply, because we are consistently 100% sold out of everything we produce, sometimes weeks in advance, so we need to expand capacity and fast,” said Jennings.

Keep reading... Show less