Colombian company Clever Leaves has unveiled the third prong of its European strategy with the launch of its CBD wellness brand in London.
Clever Leaves, which has 1.5 million sq ft of growing facilities in its home country, currently has a European presence in Portugal, Germany and France. From these locations its sales and marketing teams drive forward its medical cannabis, and CBD extract and isolate businesses.
In a telephone interview CEO-Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder Andrés Fajardo told CBD Testers that London is the stand-out destination for its new CBD brand – Esenia.
Spectacular London Talent
He said: “Firstly we believe the U.K. market is ahead of the curve in the product category in both a regulatory and consumer trends; the U.K. is by far the largest at around £300m, growing at a rapid rate and set to be worth £1 billion by 2025.
“It is also a market in which the consumer defines the trend of what is happening, and what is a successful CBD product not only now, but in the coming years. It is the largest and the most promising market.
“We see London as a place where you can build a brand and a portfolio of products, not only is the talent here, and spectacular for that objective, over and over again the U.K. has proven to be a great location for this kind of brand-building, portfolio development.
“We believe that we can build a successful business, not only for the U.K., but also a business from the U.K. to rest of Europe and elsewhere in the world. It is a very attractive market but also a very solid hub for our portfolio, brand management, and all of our commercialization efforts going forward.”
From Five to 20 staff
Clever Leaves currently has a London office with five staff and expects to grow that to around 20, within 12 months. Mr Fajardo said it is looking to recruit talented individuals who ‘understand business, are innovative and understand how a product relies on quality consistency and delivering on the promises made to consumers’.
He continued: “This industry is at a very early stage, the products that are out in market are very basic and we, as a company, are part of an industry that has to work together to move forward. London is our hub for the U.K. market and beyond.”
Esenia products have a seed to sale authenticity, are of a pharmaceutical- grade quality and are cultivated and produced to Colombian Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards, he explained.
Its 1.5 million sq ft of greenhouses – soon to be expanded to 10 million sq ft – are also in the process of being certified with the European Good Manufacturing Practices benchmark. Complicated regulatory divergence on the sale of CBD products across the European continent mean that the Esenia CBD line will be sold specifically into the U.K. market, initially.
Europe Regulatory Concern
Clever Leaves regulatory teams, across its fellow European offices, are working to ensure all further sales and marketing activities into Europe, and elsewhere, strictly adhere to the rules of each jurisdiction.
The company has spent around nine months ensuring it has a fully functioning supply chain operating into the U.K. and delivered its first product to the country last month as its ‘safety stock’.
Proud of these achievements to date, Mr Fajardo said: “We have achieved a milestone for the cannabis industry at a global level. Exporting legal hemp derived products from Colombia and dealing with exporting and importing authorities has been achieved – while it has taken time to streamline this process.”
Esenia has been developed and produced in Colombia with local partners and what the CEO described as an ‘extraordinary formulation team’.
Pharmaceutical Grade CBD
Its pharmaceutical-grade spray will deliver a consistent 6mg, of 4% CBD oil extract, complete with a ‘sophisticated terpene profile that has so far tested positive with customers’, he said.
“We pride ourselves on being as a seed-to-shelf business, one which knows what goes into each bottle and where it was harvested. This allows us to consistently deliver a high-quality product to our customers.”
The German medical cannabis market is set to become the largest in Europe and Mr Fajardo says it is currently developing medical grade cannabis lines to supply this with a range variety, which includes a mix of CBD and THC specific products.
While its white label and API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) capabilities ‘mean its customers are guaranteed consistent supplies of pharmaceutical grade cannabis products’.
In May 2016 the Colombian Government introduced new regulations to allow for the cultivation, processing and export of medicinal cannabis. This move recognised the commercial potential of the industry and Clever Leaves was one of the first movers into the marketplace and the first to cultivate medical cannabis in the country.
The company is already one of the world’s largest hemp and medical cannabis producers with over 450 employees. Its Colombian facility is currently capable of extracting 24,000 kilograms of dried flower and aims to increase that to 324,000 kilograms, per year, by early 2020.
Clever Leaves receives final backing from New York-based cannabis investment fund Northern Swan.
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