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Curaleaf International on the growth of the European cannabis market

Curaleaf International CEO, Antonio Costanzo, shares his thoughts on the future of the European cannabis market.

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Curaleaf International: the growth of the European cannabis market

Following its recent launch in Europe, Curaleaf International CEO, Antonio Costanzo, discusses the growth of the cannabis market on the continent.

Formerly British cannabis company, EMMAC Life Sciences, Curaleaf International was acquired by Curaleaf Holdings in March 2021 to build on the momentum of the European medical cannabis market. 

Curaleaf International’s products are sold in five countries in Europe including Germany, and the company has seen revenue from its medical cannabis products skyrocket due to increasing demand.

With a population of 740 million in Europe, the European adult use market is projected to reach €800m by 2025. Costanzo, co-founder and CEO of EMMAC Life Sciences, says it now has the potential to exceed the North American market due to decreasing stigma around the medicine.

“We are now part of the largest cannabis group in the world,” says Costanzo, who has been in the cannabis industry for five years. “We decided to focus on Europe and started building EMMAC Life Sciences, which became Curaleaf International. Today, it is the only vertically integrated multinational cannabis company in Europe. 

“It is a perfect platform in our view to make the most out of the opportunities that we are going to have in front of us in the coming months and years around Europe – both on the medical cannabis side and the recreational cannabis side. 

“We have our cultivation facility in Portugal and have two pharmaceutical labs, one in Spain and one in the UK, which comply to with EU GMP standards. Through these three assets, we are able to distribute the products that we manufacture in different countries in Europe and in the UK – including Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland. As we progress, more countries are coming on stream – Israel is another country where we have shipped a lot of our medical cannabis flowers in the last 24 months.”

Curaleaf International is part of the Curaleaf Group, a combination that Costanzo says are complementary due to the high demand in Europe for medical cannabis and the expertise from the recreational markets in the US.

“The two are very complementary in our view because on the one side you have the high demanding landscape of Europe, which has taken us into a pharmaceutical route, combined with a more consumer goods approach in the US.

“We feel like we can combine the best of two worlds so we can bring all the standards that we have implemented here in Europe and all the research and development that we’ve done in Europe into the US, and we can take expertise from the US to Europe.”

Europe is seeing a number of markets opening up across the continent, including recent announcements from Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany, which are all moving toward introducing new cannabis legislation to allow citizens access to the plant.

“When we started in 2018 only a few countries had a medical cannabis programme in place. Today, there is more of those countries, and the most important thing is that all the main countries are moving forward with the deployment and opening of medical cannabis programmes. So, it is not a matter of if they want to open, just a matter of when they implement those programmes. 

“We have seen the number of patients in the UK multiply by five in the last 12 months and we are also seeing numbers going up in Germany and in Italy. We think that is going to continue happening on the medical cannabis side as we progress and more countries open up.

“France has introduced a pilot project, which will convert into a full opening at the beginning of 2023. Spain is currently going through a parliamentary process to open up a medical cannabis programme, which we think will happen by the end of 2022, and there is also ongoing political discussions around recreational cannabis which are picking up very rapidly in some jurisdictions. In the coming 12 to 24 months, we will start seeing countries opening up in that segment as well.

“The potential is huge in Europe. There are more countries that need to legalise in Europe compared to North America, but, that being said, I think if you look 10 to 20 years ahead the potential is fantastic.

“There are always barriers when you are talking about something that has been illegal for 70 years and treated as something that should not be touched, should not be made available to people, not even for medical purposes. Now that has changed in the past 10 to 15 years, and it is even changing for adult use or recreational use. So, there are barriers and they need to come down. 

“For example, in certain countries there is still a stigma around cannabis. That has been removed very quickly, largely because of the work that has been done around research and medical use. Once a product has value as a medical product, then the conversation completely changes. So there are steps that need to be taken – there are still people that need to be educated about the reality of cannabis, politicians that have to come to terms with the change in the view of something that they have never questioned within themselves – but that is happening and we are seeing the results of it already here in Europe.”

Curaleaf is putting a strong emphasis and focus on research and development, including clinical research, having a number of ongoing relationships with Imperial College London and universities in Italy and Spain. The research is centred around how to best use cannabis and its active pharmaceutical ingredients to treat different conditions, specifically focusing on cancer, inflammation and the treatment of chronic pain. 

“It is early stages, but it is something that we are very committed to and, in the long term, will inform not just how we develop products for medical use, but in my view will also inform how we develop products for adult use consumption, which is something that we are already seeing happening in the US. We want to provide products to people that are safe to consume. That is the end goal for this industry – we need to make everyone comfortable with these products and one of the ways to do it is by investing in research and development.

Curaleaf has the benefit of having complete control over its entire supply chain, which Costanzo says helps the company bring products to patients at an affordable price point.

“By being in control of the full supply chain, we are also in control of the costs. That has resulted in us being among the first companies to bring prices down. One of the issues that we had in Europe around medical cannabis at the beginning was that the pricing was very high. It was difficult for patients to pay 15 pounds for a gramme of medical cannabis when they could find a similar product, although not with the same safety standards, on the black market for six pounds. 

“Because it [cannabis] is not reimbursed – taking the UK as an example – it really had an effect on their personal wealth. We managed to bring that pricing down because we are vertically integrated, so we compressed the pricing. We compress the margins and we are today able to sell products in the UK at a cost per gramme which is lower than the average cost per gramme of the illegal market. This accelerates the growth of the market and now eases access to the product for patients.”

Costanzo added: “We are very excited because we think it is still very early stages in the development of this industry. We think that we are very well positioned to take advantage of that opportunity that is coming our way and that the next 24 or 36 months are going to be a key moment for the European industry.”

Stephanie is the editor of Cannabis Wealth. Contact: stephanie@handwmedia.co.uk

Features

Powered by British Cannabis

British Cannabis™ has been busier than ever in 2021, building plans for future growth. The cornerstone of this endeavour will be the Winter 2021 relaunch of its flagship pharmacy CBD brand – Canabidol™.

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Powered by British Cannabis

British Cannabis™ has been busier than ever in 2021, building plans for future growth. The cornerstone of this endeavour will be the Winter 2021 relaunch of its flagship pharmacy CBD brand – Canabidol™.

We spoke to the leadership team at the UK’s ‘consumer cannabis original’ as they prepare to take their multi-faceted business back on the road with a return to live events.

In 2017, Canabidol™ by British Cannabis™, became the first CBD brand to exhibit at The Pharmacy Show. Each year, its presence at the show grew in parallel with the CBD category’s exponential growth in the UK. In 2021, the company is set to greet pharmacists and retail buyers at the largest open plan stand occupied by a CBD company to date.

Canabidol™ is a UK-made CBD brand, developed specifically to meet the exacting standards required in pharmacy for the retail sale of CBD products. This included transparent batch-by-batch analytical testing, publicly available online test results and class-leading accurate CBD strengths and assured product purity and safety.

These high standards for product quality helped see British Cannabis ship over half a million product units across multiple retail channels.

David Ralson, British Cannabis’ managing director, commented: “Over the years British Cannabis won awards for the whole-plant cannabis distillate ingredients behind our retail brands, as well as a number of accolades across the brands themselves; these included Pharmacy CBD Product of The Year 2020 with Independent Community Pharmacist and two CBD Product of The Year awards with healthy lifestyle magazines. Meanwhile, our white label and private label partners also picked up a number of awards for the products we produce for them.

“We have never put something out to market unless we’re satisfied that it is what it says and that it will work for people,” says David.

“Helping people in a wide range of ways with our products is what drives the company forward; the positive stories on our Trustpilot pages – which have accumulated over 4,00 combined five-star reviews to date – make all the efforts more than worthwhile.” 

With over 1,500 product options, all with registered FSA Novel Foods applications, other leading CBD brands have turned to being ‘Powered by British Cannabis’ in 2021 as white-label clients.

From reaching the number one spot on the Amazon UK Herbal Supplements department in 2016 with Canabidol™ CBD Gel-Tabs, to the development of the first UK-made refined, golden and smooth cannabis oils, and the first clinically proven cannabis cosmetics, Canabidol set trends which more recent entrants to the UK market have had to follow.

David recalls: “Over time, British Cannabis came to sum itself up with the line ‘We know more, because we do more’.”

The continuous programme of research and innovation at British Cannabis most recently saw the launch of the Canabidol™ CBD Dermal Patch. Each patch is designed to deliver cannabis plant benefits via an easy-to-use direct dermal application to any part of the body, over a 24 hour period. 

Unlike ‘weaker’ patch products on the market, Canabidol’s unique formula contains 17 natural plant terpenes and essential oils as well as 50mg of pure cannabis-extracted CBD.

The new CBD Dermal Patches, along with the rest of the Canabidol™ range (including Refined and RAW Cannabis CBD Oils, CBD Capsules and CBD Rescue Cream™) are debuting in all-new packaging for the first time at The Pharmacy Show.

British Cannabis marketing director, Steve Batchelor, can hardly wait, commenting: “Canabidol™ has always set standards when it came to looking professional, credible and approachable.

“Even when many CBD brands back in 2016 had a fairly ‘earthy’ and ‘canna-centric’ look and feel, Canabidol™ carved out a niche as a mainstream range underpinned by quality and attention to detail. With our Q3 2021 relaunch, the range is looking stunning; all-new premium-feel shoulder boxes, colour-coordinated strengths and beautiful gold foil finishing. Our hard-working British Cannabis Creative team have outdone themselves and I look forward to seeing our retail and pharmacy customers receiving this new-look range on shelves, well in time for the upcoming key winter season for CBD products.”

As these innovations are made-ready, the firm is investing in a new HQ facility for 2022, which will see it treble capacity and start to manufacture more CBD supplements than ever, as well as launch many new CBD cosmetics lines. 

The facility will also include a state-of-the-art ISO-accredited testing lab, under the rebranded British Cannabis Analytics division of the business. 

As one of 35 testing labs selected to participate in the 2021 UK Government Chemist ring trial assessment for measuring CBD and cannabinoid content in commercial products, British Cannabis Analytics received a vote-of-confidence in its product testing services and the accuracy of its results. 

The LGC stated that the trial was “very successful”, with 82 per cent of labs demonstrating their capability to determine CBD in consumer products successfully.

CEO and founder, Tom Whettem, commented: “Having this amount of trust and faith put into our analytics services is further ratification that British Cannabis’ labs are up to par with other established testing facilities used in the cannabinoid industry. 

“After nearly six years of pioneering in the UK consumer cannabis industry, the exciting relaunch of Canabidol™ and establishment of British Cannabis Analytics takes the company one step closer to establishing a legacy the likes of British Sugar, British Telecom and British Airways, who all established themselves as household names in their industries. we stand on the shoulder of those UK giants and by using the understanding gained by these major thinkers that developed before us, we aspire one day to be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder alongside them.”

Following the recent trend of cannabis companies gaining London Stock Exchange (LSE) listings, David Ralson confirmed that British Cannabis is also close to securing a long term investment boost. 

“As an established company that has generated over £15m in revenues and demonstrated a profitable trading history since its conception in 2016. we are now primed to build on those solid foundations, tapping into the capital markets to further our strategic investment plans,” he said.

“With no previous ties to a larger parent company, being independent and family-owned is something we are proud of. However, we will also be moving with the times and strengthening British Cannabis for the long term. This will allow the right investors the opportunity to be the first to partner with a British company that has all the high growth potential to become a household name.”

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Features

Discover the world’s first hemp tableware

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JT Discover the world's first hemp tableware

As the world’s first hemp tableware range is due to launch in the UK, Sarah Sinclair talks to the man behind it, Cannalise founder Jeffrey Tang.

As founder and CEO of Hemp Australia, Jeffrey Tang, describes himself as a “self-made” industrial hemp entrepreneur, who has been working in the cannabis space since 2013. 

Jeffrey believes that the cannabis industry has the potential to change, and save the planet. His goal for the last eight years, while also working as a start-up venture capital investor, has been to raise awareness of this complex and fast-growing industry, and to develop healthy, high quality and environmentally sustainable products to benefit society. 

The launch of his latest brand, Cannalise, which will see its first range of hemp tableware available in the UK in the coming months, embodies everything he has worked towards, overcoming stigma and embracing the many benefits of hemp to get it into the homes and hands of the masses.

With 368 million tonnes of plastic produced globally each year and many countries now banning its manufacture, there’s no doubt the world needs a more sustainable solution. But Cannalise is much more than just a plastic substitute. Its products last for years, are so tough even a saw couldn’t split them and when you are finally done with them you can bury it in the back garden for it to biodegrade, says Jeffrey. 

CW: Tell us about Cannalise and what was the motivation behind it?

Jeffrey Tang: The name Cannalise stands for cannabis civilised, legalised and socialised. As we all know, education is perhaps the most important but most difficult thing in advancing the cannabis industry. There’s a lot of stigma and people have demonised the plant for a long time. 

As a strong supporter of cannabis and a hemp entrepreneur myself, I’ve always been devoted to creating hemp products which can be widely used across our community, without any regulatory issues. We are creating a sustainable eco-friendly product line, taking all this material from mother nature, with no harm to the environment and no harm to human beings.

CW: How are the products made?

JT:  We use 100 per cent natural hemp and other plant fibres. To bind these fibres and starches together without using any chemicals or plastic glue requires a very very high pressure, which is why our product density is so high. You can’t even cut through it with a saw, which shows how durable and tough our product is. But at the same time it is 100 per cent biodegradable. We had a test done that showed within 65 days it can degrade by up to 92 per cent. 

Discover the world's first hemp tableware JT

CW: Why is hemp a good material for a product range like this? 

JT: People say there are over 50,000 different uses of hemp, because hemp is one of the strongest and the most durable fibres available today. It needs less land to grow than other crops and is actually capable of flourishing in many different climates and soil types, which means we can cultivate in most regions of the world. It grows fast and can be harvested up to three times per year. This makes it cheap and fast to cultivate and easy to care for. Hemp also possesses a natural resistance to many insects and requires very little water and it also takes 60 to 70 per cent of the nutrients it needs from the soil. 

CW: What are its benefits compared to other commonly used manufactured materials?

JT: Thousands of products that are made from petroleum-based plastic could be replaced by hemp-based composites. People in the hemp industry know that hemp is a super plant from its practical uses to the environmental sustainability aspect, the hemp plant always comes out on top, outperforming all the other competitors, such as cotton.

Many countries are now starting to ban plastic. Hemp bioplastic material offers a significant advantage for the environment because it’s not made from fossil fuels and doesn’t produce carbon dioxide when it composts. You can actually bury it in the backyard and know you’re giving back to mother nature. 

Discover the world's first hemp tableware JT

CW: What about the price point? Will it be more expensive?

JT: Every new industrial product line, when it’s first released to the market, is actually more expensive than the traditional product. That’s why it is harder to compete. As hemp cultivation becomes more popular, the supply will become cheaper and the average cost will be lower. If communities and governments will have some incentive to push this, it’s going to reduce the price sensitivity and eventually, we can make it much more affordable.

We’re not competing with plastic, yes we can replace plastic, but at the same time, our product is reusable. I’ve been using my own product, the chopsticks, for three years. There is wear and tear but it’s still in good condition.

CW: Why is now the right time to launch a product range like this?

JT: We’re launching three sets initially, the family set, the kids set and the portable set, which is very handy for travelling and camping. It’s lightweight but not fragile, and if it got left somewhere is not going to pollute the environment. I think post-pandemic everyone is outside more and is also much more aware about hygiene. When you travel or go to a restaurant or take an aeroplane, many people would probably prefer to use their own dinnerware. And it’s not made from stainless steel so it’s safe for use on airplanes. 

Discover the world's first hemp tableware JT

CW: How do you hope it will create a wider conversation about cannabis?

JT: I hope Cannalise can set a good example of how cannabis or hemp products can get into people’s homes without stigma. This is a household product, there’s no such regulation or restriction to limit it being sold directly to the consumer.

This is where education starts from. It’s something I think would be beneficial to all hemp industrial companies and individuals who want to actually start education – with a visualised everyday-use product. I think we are creating a bridge, a connection between cannabis and everyday life, and other industries.

CW: What about the future? What’s your vision for Cannalise?

JT:  Initially it will be available in Australia, New Zealand and the UK before we expand into other European countries, America, South America and South Africa. We don’t want to position ourselves as a replacement for plastic. It is better than plastic. Moving forward we want to work with local designers to create a range which is more artistic and visually appealing, as well as eventually white-labelling. I think the travel industry is going to love it, as well as the healthcare and education sectors which could all benefit from this product. We have unlimited imagination of the market size.

Find more information at https://www.cannalise.com.au/

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UK CBD company Kaya raises £1.7m for European expansion

Kaya co-founder Ludovic Rachou discusses the company’s journey and plans for European expansion.

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UK CBD company Kaya raises £1.7m for European expansion

UK-based CBD brand Kaya has successfully raised £1.7m of funding which will help fuel its expansion into European markets.

Founded in 2019 in France, CBD and adaptogenic brand Kaya had a vision to be a European leader in the CBD sector. The company was one of the first in the UK to receive approval under the new Novel Foods certification, verified by the Food Standards Agency for their CBD-based products, and today, its products are sold in over 1000 stores across Europe.

Kaya’s recent £1.7m fundraise came from both new and existing investors including VC fund, Senseii Ventures, and US cannabis fund, Artemis Growth. The funding will go towards fuelling the company’s brand mission as they expand into European markets following its recent launches in Italy, Germany and Poland.

“We’re currently the biggest player in France when it comes to finished products with CBD and we have about 40 people in the company in France. We have a few people in the UK as well,” said Ludovic Rachou, Kaya co-founder and founding member of the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), a cannabis trade association in the UK.

Kaya’s range spans ten bespoke adaptogenic and CBD-based, vegan-friendly products for a number of uses from restful sleep to everyday stress relief.

“It was the first market because of the regulation in the UK with Novel Foods so, it has been hard to grow in the UK recently. We launched Germany with an edibles brand, and launched a cosmetics brand called Skin back in November 2020. So, we mostly sell in France in pharmacies and general retails, and also small independent shops and online. So, we don’t have the same kind of health retail that we have in the UK or in the US. 

“About half of our revenue is our own revenues online, and we are going to finish our first year with somewhere between €5 to to 6m in revenue.”

Rachou highlights that, whilst other brands are relying on ingredient suppliers or manufacturers to achieve compliance, Kaya is one of the few brands to have submitted its application in its own name, processed through the EIHA Projects Consortium. 

“It is a process where we have to prove that the CBD we use – we currently only use isolates in our products – is actually safe for human consumption, and it is something that we had to do in the UK, but we also have to do for French markets for instance. There are quite a few brands that claim the same thing, but the main difference with us is that we actually formulate all our products in-house. 

“We have five different founders and my co-founder Allison is a pharmacist who is actually the one doing all the formulations. So, we don’t buy, because on the market you mostly see brands which products are from on-the-shelf labs – however, we usually outsource production, but we work on the formulations and the recipes ourselves. 

“I think that’s one of the biggest differences, and we buy for different regions from different suppliers. We never buy anything at the same place.

UK CBD company Kaya raises £1.7m for European expansion

“When we launched the company we raised €1m with mostly French and British private investors – high net worth individuals and mostly entrepreneurs. Then, for the second round, it was mostly the same people, and a new, interesting new player from the US, a fund called Artemis Growth, which is interesting because they are one of the biggest funds in the US space.”

Kaya is beginning to look towards the European CBD market for its future and will be launching a new Series A round aiming to raise between €5 to 10m.

“I think we have seen the market in the US maybe losing faith a bit because of all the regulation – it is not so clear with the FDA, so, many Americans are starting to look at what is happening in Europe. For us, when you see the investments that Artemis Growth has made in the US – so far they have made the right choices – so, we are quite proud to have them on board.

“We are funding our international expansion – so, we just launched in Germany and Italy, and we are also willing to expand all around in Europe. We want to trial all the markets and, if the figures are good, then we will launch specific teams on the ground. We think it is very important to have natives in each and every country – to understand the market and the consumer.”

One year ago Kaya had six people in the company, but has now evolved with a team made up of 40 people, and soon to be 55, and has plans to launch new product lines.

“We are going to launch a pet food brand, hopefully, by the end of the year or early 2022. Most of the CBD you get in Europe is either imported from the US, or sometimes from Eastern Europe, but we are about to launch in mid-2022 with French hemp and CBD. France is actually the biggest hemp farmer in Europe and there is a new regulation that is about to change next year. So, we’re going to be allowed to do French CBD which I think is pretty important to sell. Our goal, in the end, is to sell German CBD in Germany and French CBD in France, and so on.

“We are always looking for talent so we are currently recruiting a lot of people and we are always interested in talent everywhere in Europe. So if anyone wants to get in touch – feel free.”

Kaya, which also has headquarters in Paris, has seen more than 15,000 customers since September 2020, and Rachou says the latest round of funding puts Kaya one step closer to achieving the goal of delivering quality products with the potential to have a real impact on consumers’ day-to-day lives.

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