Canadian price range tenders cannot get sufficient of those micro-cannabis manufacturers
Micro-cannabis products in small quantities are bringing quality and pouch appeal to the consumer market that is changing the game in Canada, say several retailers and growers across the country.
Although much of Canada’s first two years of legalization was dominated by cannabis produced by some of the country’s larger, often publicly traded, cannabis producers, that is changing as more and more small-scale producers make it onto store shelves.
“A lot of these smaller growers come in with a fire, and if I were a big LP now I’d have some concerns,” says Ryan Roch of Lake City Cannabis outside of Calgary, Alberta.
Quality cannabis over quantity
“We see a lot of these smaller growers bringing out products that are finally meeting consumer expectations,” continues Roch. The mics like Habitat or North 40 Cannabis both do amazing things. Even the big LPs seem to have admitted defeat and are now trying to build partnerships with small producers who produce good products and then sell them under their craft label. The 7ACRES Craft Collective is a really good example. “
One of those products that his business has been able to store and sell well is a type of cake made by Habitat Craft Cannabis in British Columbia, according to Roch. Habitat, an indoor microcultivator that uses an aquaponic system that breeds fish in addition to cannabis, says their focus on a small approach has allowed them to focus on quality rather than quantity.
While standard cannabis cultivators have no size limit, micro-cultivators are a license category designed to allow smaller growers to enter the market. Because of this, they have certain advantages in terms of licensing requirements and a canopy limit of no more than 200 m2 of cannabis grown at any given time.
Although Rudi Schiebel, the founder of Habitat Craft Cannabis in British Columbia, is one of those companies licensed for up to 200m2 of canopy space, he says his team was only under 75m2 in its first year of operation and focused on F. & E und Select your systems before you expand them to your full 200 m² canopy.
Aquaponic grows at Habitat’s British Columbia facility. Courtesy Habitat Life Craft Cannabis.
This small-scale approach helps them ensure that quality and quantity are not compromised.
“Much of it is speed and growth,” explains Schiebel. “Our philosophy is to start small and dial in and know every corner of the system we use, especially with aquaponics. Having a size that is manageable, once you’ve made these adjustments and learned, you can gradually scale it up without having to drink from the fire hose right away. “
According to Schiebel, Habitat’s products were available in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and feedback from consumers and retailers has been positive. However, because of their small size, they want to work exclusively with the British Columbia government’s sales arm to supply the British Columbia market, rather than spreading too thinly.
Although some provinces, including BC, have been reluctant to deal with smaller producers up to this point, the province has shown interest in partnering with more BC mics to get them onto the provincial shelves, according to Schiebel.
“I think they are open to wanting to promote and support BC-Mikros and will make this exception for companies like us who may not get the minimum order quantity they are looking for, but they really want to step up and see the success of the BC handicraft market is growing. “
Another BC microcultivator who recently launched it, Dunn Cannabis, says the reception of not only its product but also its new business with local retailers has been very positive.
Logan Dunn, founder of Dunn Cannabis, a longtime cannabis breeder in lower BC mainland, says local retailers were eager to learn more about his product. He’s even let some out to find out more about the product. While he can’t market his brand in a more traditional way, he says that if he’s just been active on social media and the community really helped spread the word, it really helped get the word out.
“A lot of it stops to talk to people,” says Dunn. “There are so many cool little marketing strategies that I can use right now. One of them comes by and only speaks to retailers. I stopped by the local retailers and they already know who I am, what I do and what product I have before I even talk about it which is a big surprise to me. “
Like Schiebel, Dunn sees BC’s distributor showing an interest in keeping their products in stock, even if that means a slightly higher price than some of the larger wholesale LPs can offer.
“From my conversations I can tell that they want this local grower on their platform and that might come at a different price than they are normally willing to pay, but I think they are willing to compromise to get it to reach.”
Andrea Dobbs, the co-owner of The Village Bloomery in Vancouver, BC, who carries Dunn Cannabis’s first cultivator, an Island Pink Head, and will soon be stocking a North 40 strain, says her customers are keen to support them Types of small business.
“When mics come in, we want to wear them,” explains Dobbs. “We want to support small players so that they can play in this area. The cool thing about mics is that they have stories that are easier to convey … as opposed to an organization with multiple brands underneath. It becomes harder to connect with these because you don’t know what makes them different. ”
“I’ve found that people want to know the story, they want to know who the people behind the brand are, what their story is,” she continues. “Those are the things people look forward to, at least in our business.”
Micro cannabis is changing consumer perceptions with high quality
Gord Nichols, another micro-cultivator who, like Dunn, is very active and well known on social media, says the reception for his product has been overwhelming.
Nichols is the founder of North 40 Cannabis, a microcultivator in Saskatchewan. Several products have reached consumers in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, where he says it will sell as soon as they can store it. It also offers products to registered medical users through the Shelter Cannabis online platform.
Like his micro-colleagues, Nichols says his focus on quality rather than quantity gives him an edge.
“I think the mics will improve quality across the industry as they will move to a higher quality product as it goes to market and I think the mics are well positioned to deliver that product,” says Nichols.
“Overall, it was fantastic and the reception from consumers was great. It’s not without its challenges, but I like to focus on the positives, ”continues Nichols. “Retailers contact me all the time, and I reach out to them too. And every time I drive past a pot shop, I stop, go inside, introduce myself, and see if they are wearing my product. “
One of those Saskatchewan retailers said it had North 40 products and was excited to support a local business and that consumers were very happy to support it too.
“We love to support them because they are local and we always want to support local businesses,” says Kayla Tait, manager at Lush Leaf Cannabis in Esterhazy, SK. “Tons of positive feedback, and as a consumer, it’s also one of my favorite products. It’s nice quality. “
Lush Leaf has been open for business since day one of legalization on October 17, 2018. Tait said the quality, prices and variety of products have improved significantly since then, attracting more consumers to the illegal market.
“When we started out, it was so difficult to convince people to come out of the black market,” explains Tait. “But now that 2.0 has been introduced and we have all these concentrates and distillates and everything else, the drop in prices for flowers has made it more competitive.
Although the craft or micro products like North 40 and others are priced a little higher than some other products, Tait says consumers seem keen to endorse a local handicraft product.
“There will always be a segment of the population who want the cheapest thing they can get, but we have some customers who value quality and are willing to pay a little more for the craft. Especially when it’s local and based in Saskatchewan, they seem happy to support it. “
David Brown has been working in and writing about the Canadian cannabis industry since 2012. Previously, he was the Editor-in-Chief and Communications Director for Lift Cannabis and Lift News, Senior Policy Advisor for the Cannabis Legalization Division of Health Canada, and is the founder of StratCann Services Inc.
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