Constantin Marakhov, CEO and founder at Hempfy, shares with Cannabis Report World his view on cannabis prospectives, challenges and opportunities, for a sustainable development of industry.
Can you introduce us to Hempfy? Where did the idea for the concept originate from?
We began three years ago and our idea was to bring wellness and the health benefits of cannabis to the mass consumer. Hempfy focuses on innovative cannabis based food and beverages, bringing to consumers fun and healthy hemp-based products, in a safe and legal way. We are vertically integrated company and developed several state of the art technologies for cannabis growing and processing with close cooperation with farmers.
What makes your products different?
We are probably the only company in the world that focused on bringing the fresh plants to the products. In other words all our products are based on the infusion of fresh plants, which creates at first a unique taste profile (which became our signature) and second opens a broad opportunity for increased functionality.
All our products are 100% Swiss made: we grow Hemp, produce and develop our products exclusively in Switzerland from bottom to top.
In addition, we are very proud of our ability to bring cannabis products to the attention of mass consumers via our strong cooperation with the leading retailers and substantial efforts made by our team in consumer education. We do a heavy lifting for other players to bring cannabis perception in the society to a new level.
What challenges have you faced so far in the cannabis market and how were these overcome?
The challenges are known to every big player. It is the lack of regulation, quality standards, absence of proper R&D and of course the social perception (still for a lot of people cannabis is considered a drug).
We work really hard with consumers, but also with major FMCG companies to educate about cannabis and its potential and we have quite a good track record here. The reality is that before major FMCG players enter the cannabis market we don’t expect major breakthroughs.
The industry requires more educational power. Consumers have questions and claims that are not answered yet.
In my opinion industry players need to understand that at this particular point we are creating “white space” for consumers and retailers and it’s completely in our hands to shape it in the right way. Absence of cooperation and self-regulation between cannabis players might create a wild west on the market, which in turn will put away a lot of consumers due to disappointment in product claims vs reality.
What is the most important thing for food and beverage companies to consider when entering this dynamic industry?
In my opinion everyone entering this market should be bearing certain level of responsibility towards consumers and industry overall in delivering true and fair products, matching consumer expectations. Unfortunately it’s not the case now, where we can see a lot of inferior and overpromising products on the market, which creates confusion and disappointment among consumers.
Players should abandon the strategy of making easy money, based on hype and exaggerated claims and focus on a long term strategy, based on quality, R&D and consumer education. That is the key for sustainable development of the industry.
What are the plans for the future and your ultimate goal?
The company’s goal is to become leading player in Europe in drinks, edibles and personal care. We are going to achieve it via three pillars: developing our own product portfolio under Hempfy brand, engage top FMCG players via providing them with the access to our high quality ingredients and co-developing products with third party via our franchising program.
What do you think the cannabis industry hopes to achieve and what can we see happening over the next few years regarding food and beverage products?
The biggest move that I see is the introduction of quality standards on the market, which will also cover the distinction between lifestyle and medical application of the cannabis based products. Consumers are seeking clear and transparent guidance on dosages, applications, side effects, etc. This needs to be achieved by joint efforts between regulators and industry players.
Also in my opinion we will see introduction of more cannabinoids in addition to CBD, THC, CBG and their combinations in the particular applications. I also believe that the role of cannabis terpenes is currently underestimated and will have a great chance to increase in the foreseeable future.