With extractors and manufacturers reportedly still maintaining substantial stockpiles of refined product, the demand for biomass continued to contract during May.
Prices saw a degree of fluctuation, given the smaller number of trades, however, overall the assessed price held steady through May, at $1.30 / %CBD / KG. Please note that we have recently adjusted our biomass price benchmark to reflect prices for transaction volumes of 0 – 1 tons.
Industry sources suggest that the slowing sales experienced following the 2019 harvest continues, highlighting the ongoing supply-demand imbalance that we have experienced since the start of 2020. With the primary end-users still predominately CBD consumers, the huge increase in raw material harvest that we witnessed in 2019 has been shown to significantly outweigh the requirements for that sector.
Based on data from growers, our predictions are that the 2020 harvest is likely to be equal, or slightly higher, than output figures for 2019. If there is an increase we don’t expect it to be particular high.
In the US, many states have suggested that hemp growing licence applications are well below 2019 levels, and even with new States entering the market, it looks like the overall yield might be lower than in 2019. Producers are also looking to other industries for raw material demand. In Europe, planting volumes look set to remain at, or around, 2019 levels.
The weather outlook for the US & Europe 2020 growing season is looking positive which should indicate the potential for a strong harvest yield.
However, even without any significant increase in global biomass output, the demand from refiners and consumers is unlikely to have risen sufficiently to prevent a similar over-supply situation at the end of 2020.
Seed sales continued to be a strong performer during May. As farmers continue to sow for the 2020 season seed prices have also remained relatively stable in price.
Total transactions of biomass for May remained depressed, and look likely to follow that trend through June.
Refined material prices remained relatively steady in May, with only slight reductions across some classes. This follows continued price depreciations in April that have been a common trend throughout 2020.
Total transaction volumes were also down during May suggesting that many producers still have sufficient stockpiles of refined product.
The refined material market has seen prices follow a progressive downward trend since the middle of last year, and while there has been a slowdown in the rate of depreciation, many refiners have still been forced to reduce prices during May.
With an abundance of supply these price reductions are expected, and we have begun to see some stabilisation from the major price drops we were seeing at the start of the year.
It remains to be seen how the market will evolve toward the second half of 2020. There is strong evidence to suggest a resurgence in consumer demand for CBD products and this is likely to continue. Similarly, product innovation is leading to new market segments, that will help drive upward growth and demand for processed ingredients.
Our Cannyx Markets CBD Isolate Benchmark dropped 16% during the period, with an assessed price of $1,157/kilo for May, with prices trending between a low of $800/kilo and a high of $1,650/kilo. This is down from an assessed price of $1,342/kilo in April.
Observed transaction volumes were up slightly on April’s lows.
CBD Isolate prices have fallen 33% since the start of the year, and there is evidence that prices may drop further as we go into June. Some producers have already cut prices below our assessed figures, in a likely bid to reduce excess stock, ahead of next year’s harvest.
As we suggested in April’s market update, new production capacity and improved processing techniques, along with new CBD formulations have all contributed to these rapid price reductions, as manufacturers are increasingly being given new compound options.
The level of price depreciation has reduced month-on-month since the start of 2020 and the relative stabilisation in May suggests that we may see prices settling at, or around, the current assessed price.
The Cannyx Markets CBD Distillate Benchmark remained flat through May, although it remains at a 12-month low of $3,674/kilo, with trading fluctuating between a low of $2,750/kilo and a high of $4,950/kilo.
Our CBD Water Soluble Isolate Benchmark and CBD Water Soluble Broad Spectrum Benchmark both remained level, in terms of the assessed prices for May, at $1,490/kilo and $2,373/kilo respectively. Both these product classes have seen relative stability in price since the start of 2020.
Minor Cannabinoid Pricing
Since the start of 2020 we have seen large drops in the price of CBG Isolate, despite the fact that the material still remains expensive in comparison to other refined product classes.
Our CBG Isolate Benchmark has fallen by over 50% since the start of the year. In May, signs are that prices may have started to stabilise for this product class too. The assessed price for the month was virtually unchanged from April’s figures at $7,408/kilo, down from $7,540/kilo in April.
There is continued interest in minor cannabinoids, particularly for medical applications and for its anti-bacterial properties, and with many CBD companies introducing hand sanitizer ranges based on CBG ingredients it looks like manufacturers may have found a stable market use for the compound.
It is expected that we will see additional depreciation on CBG materials as more refiners add the ingredient to their product mix, going through 2020. Given the additional difficulties associated with processing CBG, we are predicting that we won’t see prices fall as far, in the longer-term, as other refined cannabinoid materials.
While many CBD businesses have seen positive impacts from COVID-19, with online sales soaring and new opportunities from growing health & well-being and hand sanitizer markets, the industry has still been impacted in a range of strategically crucial ways:
Lock-down measures and international travel restrictions have majorly impacted logistic and supply chain elements across the cannabinoid industry. Manufacturers and brands that had previously replied upon overseas suppliers for essential raw materials, ingredients, processing chemicals, and manufacturer/extraction equipment have in some cases been forced to change and adapt supply chains to build resilience and mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
Many CBD companies have managed to continue production despite lock-down measures, however this has still required novel, managed, processes particularly in relation to ensuring staff safety and managing potentially infected workforces. As workplace social distancing becomes the new normal these requirements will continue to be necessary. This workplace adaptation requires significant capital investment, which has been an unpredicted cost for many businesses.
On a positive note, social distancing will have a longer lasting impact on the service sector of the economy, where people tend to be in close contact (e.g. in a restaurant), than it will on manufacturing.
Changing Sales Mix
Despite online sales soaring, bricks-and-mortar sales have dropped for many CBD brands. As the retail sector faces the additional burden of COVID-19, many retailers that were operating in difficult circumstances pre-COVID are now going bankrupt. In turn this is reducing the proportion that bricks-and-mortar sales represent for many CBD brands.
Health & Well-being Trends
As people seek new ways to bolster their health & well-being sales of CBD products have risen considerably, particularly via online channels. The challenge facing brands going forward will be retaining those customers. Online customers tend to demonstrate less brand loyalty and are more driven by price. Engaging with customers effectively online will become ever-more critical to CBD brand success.
Deal activity and investment has significantly reduced across the CBD industry during the 3-months of lockdown measures. Liquidity across financial markets has reduced and competition for capital investment will remain high for the foreseeable future.
On a positive note, the CBD and medical-cannabis sectors are both showing positive long-term viability, over and above the wider cannabis market. 2020 Q1 reported results have shown strong signs of growth across the cannabinoid-derived pharmaceutical and CBD-based health & well-being sectors, and as a result investors are beginning to show renewed interest in deal-making.
Regulatory Impact on Working Capital
Although regulatory changes have not been directly driven by COVID-19, the impact of the increasing CBD regulation will definitely factor into the interim-plans of many businesses looking to implement strategic plans for the next few years. Novel food authorisation is placing a significant financial burden on manufacturers, and with these requirements still requiring investment, growing regulatory requirements are sure to place additional strains on working capital
CBD businesses now face decisions about the best way to move forward and plan for potential short-term and longer-term impacts of COVID-19. Businesses that are best prepared for economic recovery, alongside potential double-dip scenarios, will ultimately stand the best chance of performing well, during this period of uncertainty.
With Q1 results flooding in during May for CBD and Cannabinoid companies, it has given us a chance to analyse the financial resilience of the industry in the face of COVID-19, as well as highlighting a number of key trends.
CBD and Pharma Sectors becoming the Long-term Plays
When compared with the wider cannabis sector which has seen company share prices drop amid widening losses, the market demand for CBD products and CBD/THC-derived pharmaceuticals is resulting in strong performance for producers focussing on these growing market segments.
CBD-derived consumer products targeting a burgeoning health & well-being conscious customer base alongside regulated pharmaceuticals look set to become systemically important for the growth and mainstream adoption of cannabinoid-derived products.
For investors seeking the kind of returns usually associated with early-stage emerging industries, a shift of focus from retail cannabis markets to consumer CBD, medicinal-cannabis pharma manufacturers, and cannabinoid life science players is beginning to look like the best longer term sector play.
Recent Q1 2020 results from UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals, illustrate this trend, with the company selling far more of its epilepsy drug Epidiolex than expected. Q1 net sales of the drug reached $116.1 million, and there are commercial launches in France, Spain and Italy on track for later this year.
Net losses were slashed from $50 million last quarter to $8 million this time around, while revenues hit $120.6 million, up from $36 million in the same quarter last year. While clinical programs have been delayed to the second half of the year because of the Covid-19 restrictions, there are several significant trials in the pipeline.
Growing Demand for Pharma
Demand for medical cannabis and pharma products are showing strong growth as a dynamic regulatory landscape begins to allow companies greater access to new territories.
In Q1 results Canadian-based Aurora Cannabis announced that sales of medical cannabis rose by 3% sequentially to $30.5 million, while the company’s medical patient base expanded 8% to 91,116.
With Aurora’s recreational business facing increased pressure the medical sector is looking like it will become increasingly important going through 2020.
Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (TSXV: KHRN), (OTCQX: KHRNF), (Frankfurt: A2JMZC) is another producer seeing strong growth from the medical cannabinoid sector.
Alvaro Torres, Khiron CEO and director, commented: “During Q1 2020, the Company achieved major milestones that position Khiron as the leading medical cannabis company in Latin America. Most importantly, we achieved these milestones in the middle of an extraordinary global health and social crisis, which speaks to the Company’s resilience and ability to innovate and adapt to the changing environment. As of today, Khiron is the first and only company to sell low- and high-THC medical cannabis in Colombia, and we have achieved significant milestones in our other target countries, which position us to enter the execution phase of our business strategy.”
eCommerce Sales Growing
Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (TSX:CWEB, OTCQX:CWBHF)announced Q1 results that showed Direct-to-Consumer (“DTC”) eCommerce sales grew 29.4% year-over-year and contributed 65.6% of Q1 revenue.
This illustrates a growing trend across the CBD industry. Customers are increasingly engaging directly with brands, a situation that has been significantly accelerated by the COVID-10 outbreak. As customers look to cut through the CBD industry ‘noise’ they are increasingly looking for trusted brands, and with the diminishing importance of retail, this is resulting in increased DTC conversions.
UK’s ACI Drives Forward Harmonisation of Cannabinoid Testing
The UK’s Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (The ACI) has announced details of high-level discussions with the Laboratory of Government Chemists (LGC) that will focus on the development of a cannabinoid testing methodology with a higher precision control, an essential step towards standardisation for the industry.
The announcement follows months of work with the analytical testing laboratory Eurofins, who rigorously scrutinised the ACI produced protocols and demonstrated them to be robust.
Currently, a standard analytical testing methodology for CBD product testing does not exist. This means test results can differ from laboratory to laboratory. This situation was highlighted last year when the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis performed a blind testing exercise of 30 popular CBD products in the UK. The study, which recently was published in a peer reviewed academic paper, highlighted discrepancies between what was stated on the label and the results in the majority of the products tested.
It was concluded these discrepancies could be attributed to several factors; different sample preparation protocols employed for analytical testing; different validation standards of analytical methodology used in testing; or companies unwittingly (or purposely) presenting erroneous information to sell their products that have been analytically tested (in the absence of any standard protocols) in an unregulated market.
This exposed the need for standardisation and harmonisation of the analytical methodology protocols used in the testing of cannabinoids.
Dr Parveen Bhatarah, head of The ACI Regulatory and Compliance Unit, led efforts to define protocols for the analytical testing of cannabinoids. The technology employed will detect levels of cannabinoids to a higher degree of precision (approximately 0.0001%). Laboratories will then be able to identify whether samples contain more than 0.0001% of controlled cannabinoids, equivalent to 1mg/kg. This is known as the Level Of Detection (LOD) and will ensure samples do not exceed the threshold stated by the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (UK Government 2001).
These protocols have already been implemented by best-in-class analytical testing laboratory Eurofins, who showed that the protocols demonstrate quantifiable levels of cannabinoids beyond 0.0025% (weight by weight). This is known as the Level Of Quantification (LOQ). This analytical methodology also showed the ability to quantify over 16 known cannabinoids.
The ACI is now in further discussion with the Laboratory Of Government Chemist (LGC) regarding the provision of samples for a project that will focus on the development of a method for testing CBD in foods with a higher precision control. LGC is seen as the gold standard within the analytical testing industry and often advises governments throughout the world.
White House Reviews CBD Research Guidance from FDA
The White House is currently reviewing draft guidance for a federal plan on marijuana and CBD research.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submitted draft guidance on the issue at the end of May to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Commenting on the draft document, titled “Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Compounds: Quality Considerations for Clinical Research” an FDA spokesperson has indicated that it is related to the agency’s ongoing work to develop broader CBD regulations that could eventually allow for the marketing of cannabis products as dietary supplements or food items.
“We recognize that there is substantial public interest in marketing and accessing CBD for a variety of products. We are working toward a goal of providing additional guidance, and have made substantial progress,” FDA said in a statement. “There are many questions to explore regarding the science, safety, effectiveness and quality of products containing CBD, and we need to do our due diligence.”
“As part of our work, the FDA continues to explore potential pathways for various types of CBD products to be lawfully marketed,” the statement continues. “An important component of this work is obtaining and evaluating information to address outstanding questions related to the safety of CBD products that will inform our consideration of potential regulatory frameworks for CBD while maintaining the FDA’s rigorous public health standards.”
What remains to be seen is whether FDA plans to wait for this specific guidance to be finalised and for the resulting research to be completed before it gets around to issuing final rules for CBD products in general.
Despite the uncertainty that COVID-19 continues to have on global industries, the overall cannabinoid sector performed well through May.
Reports suggest that consumer demand is at an all-time high, albeit with changes in buying habits, as online and D2C channels grow in importance. As the medical market for cannabinoid-derived formulations and products continues to accelerate the sector is seeing significant progression.
There was also significant deal activity during May, with a number of acquisitions and partnership announced…
Medical Marijuana Announces 26% Rise in Full Year Revenue to $75 million
Medical Marijuana, Inc. (OTC: MJNA) has announced financial results for 2019 which show net revenues of $75.6 million for 2019, a 26.3% increase year-over-year when compared to 2018.
The company saw the benefits of strategic improvements, posting an increase in gross profits to $57.7 million for the year, an increase 900 basis points over 2018, as gross margins increased from 67.4% in 2018 to 76.4% in 2019.
Medical Marijuana is a cannabis company with three distinct business units in the non-psychoactive cannabinoid space: a global portfolio of cannabinoid-based nutraceutical brands led by Kannaway® and HempMeds®; a pioneer in sourcing the highest-quality legal non-psychoactive cannabis products derived from industrial hemp; and a cannabinoid-based clinical research and botanical drug development sector led by its pharmaceutical investment companies and partners including AXIM® Biotechnologies, Inc. and Kannalife, Inc.
GreenWay Herbal Launches New Formulation for Water Soluble Consumer CBD
Tanasi™, a line of hemp-derived cannabinoid products developed by GreenWay Herbal Products, LLC, has launched a full spectrum water soluble hemp extract drink concentrate, which allows consumers to add CBD to any drink of choice.
Using a unique formulation, developed by Ph.D.s at the world-renowned Middle Tennessee State University ― one of the world’s leading plant-science university research labs investigating botanical medicine and health, the new product range combines cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiol-A (CBDA) to produce CBD water-soluble drops that can be added to a drink of choice.
Amyris Announces Major Breakthrough in CBD Skin Care Delivery
Amyris, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMRS), has presented clinical data showcasing the superiority of its natural sugarcane squalane as a carrier of CBD versus other oils.
In order for CBD to be effective in topical applications, skin penetration is a key factor. According to new research Amyris sugarcane squalene (marketed and sold as Neossance Squalane) can improve the efficacy of CBD skin penetration by a factor of 10-40 times when used as the carrier oil in skin care products.
Arcadia Biosciences Announces Year-on-year Growth with First-Quarter Results
Arcadia Biosciences, Inc.® (Nasdaq: RKDA), a leading provider of science-based hemp ingredients, has released financial and business results for the first quarter of 2020, showing revenues of $309,000, compared to revenues of $158,000 in the first quarter of 2019.
CBD of Denver to Acquire Swiss-based Royal Green
CBD of Denver, Inc. (OTC: CBDD), a full-line CBD and Hemp oil company that sells Black Pearl CBD and hemp products and the owner of the CBD Social Network, announces that it has signed an agreement to acquire Swiss CBD retailer Royal Green.
With this 2nd acquisition, CBD of Denver and its majority shareholder Swiss Industry Ventures, AG, are positioned to become a leader in the Swiss CBD market. Switzerland is in a central location, surrounded by 5 EU countries and is the business and banking hub of the Europe. The company looks to expand its customer base quickly in adjoining countries.
NewLeaf Brands Acquires Digital Health Platform Mindleap
In an indication of a growing consumer demand for holistic solutions, that combine natural products with specialist guidance and advice, NewLeaf Brands Inc has announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Mindleap Health Inc., a digital health platform that combines mood, emotion and habit tracking with tele-health targeting mental illness.
CBD Companies Continue to Diversify into the Hand Sanitizer Market
Mountain High Acquisitions Corp. (OTCQB: MYHI) has revealed that its wholly-owned subsidiary GPS Associates, Inc. (GPS) has expanded its operations to include the production of an alcohol-based medical grade hand sanitizer at its cGMP, FDA-registered facility in Santa Ana, Calif. The company’s two state of the art bottling lines are now installed and ramping up into production—anticipating the capacity to produce approximately 2 million bottles of hand sanitizer per month.
Khiron Signs Agreement with Medlive to Supply over 3,000 Clinics and Hospitals in Brazil
Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (TSXV: KHRN), (OTCQX: KHRNF), (Frankfurt: A2JMZC) has signed an exclusive agreement with Medlive, a leading marketer and distributor of pharmaceutical products to clinics, hospitals and pharmacies in southern Brazil.
The exclusive agreement will further Khiron’s position as a leading vertically integrated cannabis supplier in Latin America. The company will supply Medlive’s network of over 3,000 clinics and hospitals in southern Brazil. As part of the agreement physicians in Medlive’s extensive network will receive medical education and training related to Khiron products.
InMed Receives Approval for Further Trials of Cannabinol for Dermatological Diseases
InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TSX: IN; OTCQX: IMLFF), a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company leading the way in the clinical development of cannabinol, has announced it has received regulatory and ethics board approval of its Clinical Trial Application to conduct its second Phase 1 trial of a cannabinol (CBN) cream (INM-755) intended as a topical therapy to treat epidermolysis bullosa and potentially other dermatological diseases.
MediPharm Labs Australia Signs Deal to Supply New Zealand’s Medical Cannabis Market
MediPharm Labs Corp. (TSX: LABS) (OTCQX: MEDIF) (FSE: MLZ) has announced that its subsidiary, MediPharm Labs Australia has entered into an agreement to supply pharmaceutical-quality (GMP certified), white-label, cannabis oil products to Cannasouth Plant Research New Zealand, a subsidiary of Cannasouth Limited (NZX:CBD). The agreement marks MediPharm Labs Australia’s second white-label supply agreement for the export of finished products to the medical cannabis market in New Zealand.
Under the two-year agreement, MediPharm Labs Australia will supply a range of GMP certified cannabis oil products that meet the high-quality standards set by the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme which came into effect on April 1, 2020 and requires all medicinal cannabis products be manufactured under Good Manufacturing Practices.
Study Identifies Additional Potential Benefit of Cannabinoids for Multiple Sclerosis
A new study has confirmed the therapeutic benefit of cannabinoids for multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as identifying additional potential benefits for a wider number of MS patients.
Italy recently approved 9-δ-tetrahydocannabinol (THC)+cannabidiol (CBD) oromucosal spray (Sativex®) as an add-on medication for the management of moderate to severe spasticity in multiple sclerosis. In the study, researchers from a number of Italian Universities and organisations collaborated on a retrospective multi-centre investigation to assess the improvement of MS spasticity-related symptoms.
Khiron Receives First Medical Cannabis Prescriptions for UK Patients Participating in Project Twenty21
Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (TSXV: KHRN), (OTCQX: KHRNF), (Frankfurt: A2JMZC), has announced the receipt of its first medical cannabis prescriptions for patients participating in Project Twenty21 in the United Kingdom (UK). Khiron branded EU GMP medical cannabis is now available for prescription from doctors and clinics participating in Project Twenty21, Europe’s largest study of the effectiveness and tolerability of medical cannabis.
Khiron is the exclusive Latin American supplier to Project Twenty21, a leading UK registry study enrolling up to 20,000 patients by the end of 2021, to create the largest body of evidence in Europe for the effectiveness and tolerability of medical cannabis
Materia Enters German Market with Acquisition of Medical Cannabis Distributor
Materia, a medical cannabis and wellness company focused on the European market, has acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of Cannaktiv GmbH, a licensed importer and distributor of medical cannabis products in Germany. Based in Hamburg, Cannaktiv has been awarded all of the requisite licenses to import and distribute medical cannabis products to wholesalers and pharmacies throughout Germany.
Clinical Trial to Study the Anti-inflammatory Effects of Cannabinoids on Respiratory Conditions
Univo Pharmaceuticals (TASE: UNVO) has partnered with the RAMBAM medical centre in Haifa, Israel to support a study aimed at the development of medical cannabis-based products, including anti-inflammatory products for respiratory conditions and pneumonia, such as those caused by the coronavirus.
As part of the partnership, Univo will provide RAMBAM with medical grade cannabis and funding for the study over a period of up to two years, and will be entitled to manufacture and market the resulting products in return for royalty payments to the medical centre.
CQ Science Introduces Cannabis-Derived Skincare Products for Sensitive Skin
Research and product development company CQ Science has launched CQuell, a first-of-its kind collection of cannabis-derived skincare products. The products are made from clean, well-researched, and thoughtfully formulated ingredients that nourish and rejuvenate, while improving the appearance of even the driest, most sensitive skin. The collection is inclusive of one product specifically formulated for people living with eczema to temporarily protect and help relieve minor skin irritations and itching.
The CQuell line resulted from four years of research and testing by dermatologists, compounding pharmacists, and CQ Science researchers who discovered that plant and seed oils, combined with specific terpenes and other naturally occurring cannabis-derived molecules could be soothing when applied to dry, sensitive, and even irritated skin.
World’s First Multi-vitamin Immunity Boost Drink Infused With CBD
UK-based Calm Drinks has launched the world’s first multi-vitamin drink infused with CBD. The orange flavoured sparkling water comes in a 250ml can and has been enriched with 14 essential vitamins and minerals designed to boost the health and immune system of those who drink it.
With personal health and wellbeing at the forefront of consumers’ minds, Calm Drinks have created a drink that provides high levels of the recommended daily nutritional allowances in just one daily serving, making it a convenient and great tasting option for consumers to boost their immune system.
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