As the hemp market grows, so do concerns regarding quality since cultivation and manufacturing are outpacing the establishment of federal regulations and industry standards. These are instead being shaped by the states, creating a patchwork of differing laws and thus, confusion.
To protect their marquee, brands need to be vigilant in their choice of supplier. It is crucial to choose one sophisticated enough to navigate the complexities of the current hemp market and the product itself. Most, if not all, quality-related questions can be answered by evaluating cultivation and harvesting practices, manufacturing processes and the quality control (QC) program adopted by the ingredient supplier.
The growing, harvesting and processing methods across the hemp supplier base vary greatly. Due to the new legal market, numerous individuals are starting up their first legitimate business; this steep learning curve places brands at a higher risk. For instance, new operations may have some experience with pesticide, fungicide or even fertilizer use, but little or no understanding of the individual wait times prior to harvest. To prevent mold growth and the associated mycotoxins in the field or greenhouse, as well as during post-harvest, drying requires special equipment and planning, particularly once an operation scales up.
Even in the scenario where the grow operation is professionally established and operated, new extract producers will often lack experience to address production-related risks. Questions often encountered in this case include: Are the solvents used actually food grade (USP [United States Pharmacopeia] or FCC [Food Chemicals Codex]), or could the solvents be paint or lower grade? Are proper sanitary conditions maintained before, during and after all process steps? Do all surfaces in contact with the extract contain any impurities or even cleaning agents that are not allowed? Were any contaminants inadvertently concentrated into the final product? Are all residual solvents removed? Has the extract been tested and certified below the legal limit for solvents and THC?
It is important to partner with vendors that understand your quality requirements and have the capability to meet them. Partnerships with dependable, quality-conscious suppliers are key to a brand’s reputation and success, especially in a new marketplace like hemp.
To read this article in its entirety, check out the “Hemp/CBD: Market evolution” digital magazine.
Rikka Cornelia is the product manager for Martin Bauer. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Irvine.