CSE’s Barrington Miller and 17 Issuers Featured in High Times Magazine

The cannabis industry continues to prove not only is it budding, it’s in a full-blown growth spurt. 

As one of North America’s fastest-growing industries, it’s important to monitor trends, legislation, and key players, and there’s no publication more on the pulse than High Times magazine, a top resource for the latest cannabis information since 1974.

Every year, High Times releases a list of the 100 most influential figures in the cannabis space. In April, they released The High Times 100 of 2021, and, excitedly, CSE Director of Listed Company Services, Barrington Miller, was featured, as well as 17 CSE-listed issuers. 

The CSE couldn’t be more proud of Barrington and these incredible cannabis entrepreneurs! It’s an impressive accomplishment and reaffirms the CSE’s reputation as a best-in-class marketplace for publicly traded cannabis stocks.

“It’s amazing to be recognized alongside these cannabis companies, professionals, and advocates. The CSE is proud of our contribution to the sector and we’re thankful to not only our issuers, but to everyone who is uplifting the industry. Special thanks to High Times for continuing to blaze that trail,” said CSE’s Barrington Miller. 

Check out the executives from the CSE-listed companies featured:

  • Leo Gontmakher, CEO of 4Front Ventures (CSE:FFNT)
  • Abner Kurtin, Founder and CEO of Ascend Wellness Holdings (CSE:AAWH.U)
  • Andy DeFrancesco, Former Chairman & CEO of SOL Global Investments (CSE:SOL)
  • Jason Wild, Chairman of TerrAscend (CSE:TER)
  • Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve Cannabis (CSE:TRUL)
  • George Archos, CEO, and Sam Dorf, Former Chief Growth Officer of Verano Holdings (CSE:VRNO
  • Daniel Carcillo, Founder and CEO of Wesana Health Holdings (CSE:WESA)
  • Robert Beasley, CEO of Cansortium (CSE:TIUM.U)
  • Nicholas Vita, CEO of Columbia Care (CSE:CCHW)
  • Charlie Bachtell, Founder and CEO of Cresco Labs (CSE:CL
  • Jonathan Sandelman, Chairman and CEO Ayr Wellness (CSE:AYR.A)
  • Joe Bayern, CEO of Curaleaf Holdings (CSE:CURA)
  • Matt Stang, Co-Founder and CEO of Delic Holdings (CSE:DELC)
  • Ben Kovler, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Green Thumb Industries (CSE:GTII)
  • Jim Cacioppo, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Jushi Holdings (CSE:JUSH)
  • Robert Groesbeck, Co-CEO of Planet 13 Holdings (CSE:PLTH)
  • Brad Rogers, CEO of Red White & Bloom Brands (CSE:RWB)

Alyssa Barry and Caroline Sawamoto on the Capital Markets Comeback Tour | The CSE Podcast Ep22-S2

To kick off the Capital Markets Comeback Tour, a joint event by the CSE and irlabs, the CSE’s Barrington Miller and Anna Serin are joined by Caroline Sawamoto and Alyssa Barry, CPIR, the Principals and Co-Founders of irlabs, an investor relations advisory firm. The four discuss the exciting cross-country event, the Capital Markets Comeback Tour, including a sneak peek at companies attending.

Here’s an overview of what Barrington, Anna, Alyssa, and Caroline discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

00:00 – Introduction and background
02:00 – How was irlabs started?
03:40 – Vancouver’s significance to the Canadian capital markets
07:00 – What to expect from the tour
11:00 – What does success look like for irlabs?
12:50 – List of participating companies
13:40 – Social media links and website information
15:25 – Alyssa’s music-related past
18:15 – Tour dates and cities
19:55 – Additional contact information

About Alyssa Barry
Alyssa is a Principal and Co-Founder at irlabs. She has over 15-years of investor relations, capital markets and corporate communications experience. An activist by nature, she has raised over $1 billion of capital, led some of Canada’s most successful activism campaigns, managed M&A transactions and enhanced board governance frameworks. She was formerly Head of Strategy – Operations and Communications at Artis REIT, Vice-President of Capital Markets and Communications at Sandpiper Group and Manager, Investor Relations at Amica Mature Lifestyles Inc. She is known for her agility, creative prose and relentless pursuit of success for her clients.

About Caroline Sawamoto
Caroline is a Principal and Co-Founder at irlabs. She has over 15-years of investor relations and capital markets experience across various exchanges and industries. She has supported numerous financing activities, both public and private, and helped raise over $650 million of capital. Caroline began her investor relations career with Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. in 2006. Her passion for making an impact through clean energy solutions led her to join Ballard Power Systems Inc. and Westport Fuel Systems Inc., both of which are dual-listed on the NASDAQ and TSX stock exchanges. Prior to co-founding irlabs, she was Investor Relations Manager at Alabaster Homes, a privately-owned real estate development company in Vancouver. She is known for her diligence, poise and can-do attitude.

Learn more about irlabs at https://www.irlabs.ca/.

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Ashish Malik on Agritech Using Bees | The CSE Podcast Ep21-S2 (Earth Day 2022)

In a special episode for Earth Day, the CSE’s Barrington Miller is joined by Ashish Malik, CEO of Bee Vectoring Technologies (CSE:BEE), to discuss this agriculture technology company’s use of commercial bees as a more sustainable alternative to traditional pesticides. The conversation also addresses the growing demand for agriculture across the world due to population growth.

Here’s an overview of what Barrington and Ashish discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

00:00 – Introduction and background
02:12 – How does Bee Vectoring make the world better?
04:20 – Limitations of the system
05:30 – How bees are involved with the system’s process
07:10 – What is colony collapse disorder?
08:40 – What kinds of bees are used?

About Ashish Malik
Ashish Malik is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BVT. He was previously the VP of Global Marketing for Biologics at Bayer CropScience. He was responsible for managing the portfolio of biological assets for the company and advancing the strategy to develop integrated crop solutions that include biological products together with traditional chemical products, seeds, traits, seed treatments, and services. Ashish joined Bayer CropScience through the company’s acquisition of AgraQuest in 2012. At AgraQuest, he was Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and a member of the company’s Executive Team. Other previous roles have included Head of Commercial Operations for the Home Care Division at Syngenta, Business Unit Director at Imerys, and Marketing Manager at BFGoodrich. Ashish serves on the Board of the Biopesticides Industry Alliance and holds an MBA with concentrations in Finance and Marketing from Carnegie Mellon University – Tepper School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Swarthmore College.

Learn more about Bee Vectoring Technologies International at https://www.beevt.com/.

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Keith Driver on Regenerative Fertilizer | The CSE Podcast Ep20-S2 (Earth Day 2022)

In a special episode for Earth Day, the CSE’s Anil Mall is joined by Keith Driver, CEO of EarthRenew (CSE:ERTH), to discuss their regenerative fertilizer solution that focuses on building back soil and preventing nutrient run-off. The conversation also addresses overcoming misconceptions in the conventional farming industry.

Here’s an overview of what Anil and Keith discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

00:00 – Introduction and background
01:40 – The challenges of using traditional fertilizer
02:52 – EarthRenew’s journey
04:40 – The challenges of introducing new technology to farmers
08:10 – Business and advertising strategy
11:11 – Hurdles yet to overcome
13:00 – Current target areas and plans for expansion
14:30 – Feedback from their shareholders
17:20 – Social media links and website information
18:40 – Keith Driver’s message for Earth Day

About Keith Driver
Keith Driver has served in leadership positions in several environmental technology companies over the past 15 years. His experience includes senior marketing, technical, and management roles focused on emerging products or technologies. Many of these opportunities have focused on processing organic feedstocks and marketing the end-products, such as compost and biochar. Keith holds two degrees in engineering and an MBA, and serves as a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary.

Learn more about EarthRenew at https://earthrenew.ca/.

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Zoglo’s Incredible Food: Exclusive technology and decades of experience create a foundation for success

The food industry is in the midst of a major shift toward plant-based alternatives, and consumers who already make plant-based foods part of their diet know that their flavour and texture has improved remarkably in the last few years. Some even taste just like meat.

Ontario-based Zoglo’s Incredible Food (CSE:ZOG) pioneered the art of producing plant-based meat substitutes and knows the ins and outs of this fast-growing sector as well as any corporate team, having been in business for nearly 35 years.

The company’s secret to producing top-shelf, plant-based proteins lies in its disruptive technology, which consists of a new extrusion process that builds fibres in vegetable proteins. The technology enables a texture that Zoglo’s Chief Executive Officer Anthony Morello calls “the closest thing to traditional meats that we’ve ever seen.”

Meanwhile, societal trends go hand in hand with Zoglo’s vision to become a global entity.

Studies show that a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet not only has health and environmental benefits, but also a noteworthy impact on lowering food costs. An Oxford University study revealed that a vegan diet can cost some 29% less than a meat diet, while the flexitarian diet was the next cheapest.

In an early December interview with Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine, Morello explained how Zoglo’s leverages decades of experience to distinguish itself in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Zoglo’s has been in business for much longer than most of its competitors. What makes the company unique in the plant-based food market?

When Zoglo’s first began, we didn’t refer to these products as being plant-based, but rather we called them vegetarian. A lot of products were good, but frankly not great, because of the technology available at that time. Over the last five years, there’s been a real technology shift allowing for plant-based products to come closer to the taste and texture of real meat.

What makes Zoglo’s different is our technology. A lot of our technology does not exist in North America yet. We have a distinct advantage over our competitors in the products that we’re making, which allows us to create a much wider assortment of options.

What do you make of the growing attention around the plant-based industry? Do you think it’s a fad or is it here to stay?

This is not a trend or a fad. Through the course of my career, I’ve seen a lot of trends in the food industry, whether it be sugar-free or gluten-free, but this is a complete food shift. It doesn’t hapepn very often. We’re on the cusp of seeing something that is going to change the way people eat. 

There are three distinct groups of people that are looking towards plant-based as a solution for their dietary needs. Younger people, or Gen Z, are looking at it as a need to help the environment, or animal welfare. Older people, like myself, are hearing our doctors tell us that we have to eat less red meat.

In Canada, cultural reasons also play a part: so many people come from different facets of the world, where vegetarianism and veganism are a part of the diet. These three dynamics are making for a perfect storm of food development.

Zoglo’s recently acquired plant-based food producer Monday Swiss UK. What was behind the decision?

We wanted to have its specialized extrusion process at our fingertips. It allows for the production of pea protein or soy protein in a way that will give you a similar experience to meat from a mouthfeel and texture perspective. This is a really distinct advantage because it opens up the category to a much broader audience and attracts flexitarian consumers.

How are you planning to grow the business? Is it going to be organic growth or M&A?

There are going to be a lot of mergers and acquisitions in this space in North America over the next five to 10 years, but I think our growth will be a combination of both. Of all the different competitors we have in our space in North America, there’s a lot of small players that will likely not last. Other large players are going to get into it in a bigger way, and already Kellogg’s is dabbling with Morningstar, and Conagra with Gardein.

They’re all going to need some form of plant-based option within their portfolios. Also, plant-based options are going to appear more in the food service industry with restaurants. There’s great room here for growth and expansion, and certainly for M&A. We want to be the best that we can be in this space and carve out Zoglo’s as a brand that’s recognized globally.

What are the industry trends you’re noticing in the plant-based food market, and how are you attempting to utilize them to the fullest?

Trends are developed by the consumer at the end of the day, and wider acceptance of products is how the trends evolve. There is so much news, attention and awareness around plant-based lifestyles, not only from a food perspective but also from environmental and health perspectives. People are curious, and they’re continuing to evolve and develop their interests.

Our position is a little different than most of our competitors because of the variety that we’re bringing to the market. We’re offering the consumer more options to incorporate plant-based foods into their meals and diets.

Food is more expensive in grocery stores now. Have you found that inflationary pressures have affected your business?

If anything, plant-based food is going to become a more economical way to purchase food. The reality is the resources required to farm animals are getting more expensive. Again, the effect that it has on our climate and our soil is a challenge that we need to deal with.

There is so much more stability in the cost of raw materials with plant-based ingredients. Because plant-based products have a stable pricing structure, consumers can know exactly what they’re going to pay week in and week out for groceries.

Have you had trouble with supply chain disruption, and if so how are you tackling that?

No, we haven’t experienced anything as of yet, which is quite remarkable because we’re currently bringing all of our products from Europe. We’re manufacturing all the products in Europe at Monday Swiss.

Our plan is to open a production facility in North America by the end of 2022, take the technology that we have in Europe and essentially cut and paste it in North America.

That will do two things: it will ease the pressure of capacity in Europe so that we’ve got the capacity to continue to grow there, and it will give us more capacity in North America as we grow our brand and our product SKUs.

With the acquisition of Monday Swiss, we have access to a facility in the northeast US. It’s the right size and the right footprint for what we need. We’re looking at the new facility as a potential location for us, and if not there then somewhere in southeastern Canada.

Finally, are there any misconceptions about plant-based foods among people that you’d like to clear up?

The biggest misconception is that all plant-based food is created equal. We are a perfect example of that. We’ve been in the business for over 30 years. Our green box lineup was made with a different technology than the black box items we recently launched.

If you taste and prepare those products like meals, the food experience is vastly different. It is important to read the ingredient decks, look at the cooking instructions, and make sure that you’re getting what you think you’re getting. There are a lot of counterfeit products out there.

As time evolves, technology has allowed these products to get a lot better. Three years from now, it’s going to be much better again.

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Zoglo’s Incredible Food at https://zoglos.com/.

Juan Carlos Giron Jr. on Metals without Mining | The CSE Podcast Ep19-S2 (Earth Day 2022)

In a special episode for Earth Day, the CSE’s Barrington Miller is joined by Juan Carlos Giron Jr., Senior Vice President of EnviroGold Global (CSE:NVRO), to discuss this clean technology company’s efforts to reprocess mine tailings and produce metals without mining. The conversation also addresses the importance of leaving a lasting environmental legacy.

Here’s an overview of what Barrington and Juan discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

00:00 – Introduction and background
02:00 – EnviroGold’s extraction process
04:40 – Leaving a positive environmental legacy
06:00 – Socials and other information about EnviroGold

About Juan Carlos Giron Jr.
Juan Carlos Giron Jr. is a senior executive with over a decade of experience in finance, management, and strategic development. Prior to joining EnviroGold Global, he was Chief Financial Officer of a NYSE-listed metals and mining firm. He began his career in UBS’s International Division, a world-leading provider of financial services. He is skilled in strategic planning, financial modeling, agile management techniques, and market intelligence and has a strong compliance background.

Learn more about EnviroGold Global at https://www.envirogoldglobal.com/.

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Dr. Tamir Gedo on Environmental Impacts of Cooking Oil | The CSE Podcast Ep18-S2 (Earth Day 2022)

In a special episode for Earth Day, CSE’s Barrington Miller is joined by Dr. Tamir Gedo, CEO of Beyond Oil, to discuss the company’s product for cooking oils that targets free fatty acids. The conversation also addresses the environmental issue of getting rid of cooking oil at scale and how their product could be part of the solution.

Here’s an overview of what Barrington and Dr. Gedo discuss in this edition of the “Exchange for Entrepreneurs” podcast:

00:00 – Introduction and background
00:59 – Beyond Oil’s free fatty acid extraction technology
01:30 – Benefits of extracting free fatty acid from cooking oil
03:40 – Effects on flavour and taste
06:30 – How to use the product
09:00 – Environmental impacts
10:30 – How the idea for Beyond Oil started
14:00 – Effects of COVID-19 on the business

About Dr. Tamir Gedo
Dr. Gedo draws upon 25 years of experience as a marketing and business strategy expert serving in academic, government, and industry functions. Dr. Gedo’s extensive expertise in international marketing, branding, entrepreneurship, and business strategy has served him in his various leadership roles. He has contributed to a wide range of branding, strategic planning, and market penetration activities as a senior manager or executive director of major companies in a variety of industries, including the pharmaceutical industry.

Learn more about Beyond Oil at https://www.beyondoil.co/.

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The Yumy Candy Company: Healthy candy becomes a reality thanks to a team that does the right things for the right reasons

In today’s food and beverage marketplace, consumers demand healthy choices in all product segments. Candy is an item defined in many people’s minds by recipes laden with sugar, which is not exactly what one tends to associate with good health. But change is underway, and at the vanguard of this evolution is Erica Williams, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Yumy Candy Company (CSE:TYUM).

Vancouver-based Yumy Candy Company is a leader in better-for-you candy, not only because it is an emerging category ripe for new entrepreneurs, but also because it fits the kinds of goals that Williams and her team are committed to accomplishing.

In a wide-ranging interview with Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine in early December, Williams discussed her strategy for launching The Yumy Candy brand, the market it plays in, and why the company’s products are already segment leaders.

The better-for-you category is self-explanatory on the surface. But how big is this segment of the food and beverage industry and what drives a successful product and brand?

The better-for-you confectionary market is just getting started. It is not a trend. I think that is the number one thing I am asked. We are the first and only vegan and better-for-you confectionary company to go public, which is a huge accomplishment, and it gives investors and opportunity to invest in the future of the confectionary sector.

I think we will see more and more better-for-you candy companies IPO, as this is a growing space and still has lots of upside potential.

The better-for-you space has been growing substantially over the last five years. I’ve seen it with the shift from high-sugar products to low-sugar alternatives, and then it was from meat and dairy to vegan options, with initially the plant-based meat, and now the plant-based dairy industry taking off. I believe the vegan confectionery sector is just at the beginning of its growth.

In 2020, the global health and wellness food market was valued at US$733 billion and projected to increase to $1 trillion by 2026. In 2019, the sugar-free market in the US alone was a $1.88 billion industry. Over 60% of consumers say that working toward a more plant-based diet is the trend they are looking for.

What drives a successful brand is a winning product and a winning team, and I think we have both. At the end of the day, it comes down to what the consumer wants, and listening to what they are looking for. Innovation is key and that’s exactly what we’re doing here at The Yumy Candy Company.

Candy is a large and competitive market segment. What advantages do Yumy Candy products have? How did you decide on these and then develop products based on that insight?

I’ve been in the health and wellness space for a long time and have my finger on the pulse of what people are looking for, and that is essential to give your brand that edge.

One of the biggest competitive advantages is that we are really focused on taste and texture. Not only are Yumy Bears the best tasting, but they are also much softer and don’t get stuck in your teeth like other candies. You no longer have to sacrifice taste and satisfaction when choosing a better-for-you candy.

Going into our launch, we did extensive market research in the confectionery space and it showed that consumers are looking for new vegan and environmentally sustainable options that are better for human health and animal welfare. We realized there was a significant gap on the shelves. Being one of the first better-for-you alternatives in the aisle has given us a huge competitive advantage. Companies like Hershey’s and Haribo are slowly starting to make adaptations to come into the space, but hopefully by that time we have claimed the unclaimed market share.

The second competitive advantage of our products is that we are up to 92% less sugar than traditional candy. There is a huge trend toward low-sugar items. Most people are aware of how overconsumption of high-sugar products has negative impacts on overall health, especially for children.

And the third competitive advantage we identified is the movement away from sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, because they have been shown to influence blood sugar levels. We cater to the demand for great tasting, naturally sweetened products without using any sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners. And then over the last two years, immunity and health has been at the top of people’s minds. Consumers are becoming more conscious of what they are putting into their body and that is another reason we are seeing people gravitate toward healthier confectionery options.

The distributors you utilize supply many of the largest food and pharmacy retailers in Canada. How extensive do you see distribution of your products becoming in terms of store numbers and over what period?

We wanted to make sure we partnered with distributors that have strong retail partners. We recently partnered with a couple of Canada’s largest distributors of quality health and confectionary products. That will bring us significant growth in sales and increase market share. Working with distributors with all of the major retailers in Canada, such as Whole Foods, Loblaws, Sobeys – they have distribution to over 7,000 vendor locations – we expect to be in thousands of locations in the next 12 months.

One of our distributors has been the main factor in establishing and distributing many great bands and companies in the confectionary space, one of which was recently acquired for US$360 million in our direct better-for-you space. Star Marketing, our other main distributor, has won awards for their relationships with retail chains such as London Drugs. We are excited that The Yumy Candy Company is well on its way to gaining tremendous market share in a relatively short period of time.

Walk us through sales to date and your marketing strategy. How important is brick-and-mortar retail compared to online sales?

Our sales strategy was to go directly to consumers. We wanted to get into the hands of consumers, let them taste the product and then let them decide. We conducted in-store product tastings, attended trade shows, went to local markets – every community event possible to get in front of our target customers. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and we knew we had a winning product.

Our sales strategy was to establish a strong retail presence in a short amount of time and that was really to start with brick-and-mortar retail, and that allowed us to grow across Canada and establish that strong retail presence.

We also launched our e-commerce. Given recent events, people have stayed home and are looking to shop online, so we did them in tandem. We recently scaled into a large nationwide distributor, which allows us access to the large retailers in the country, as well as the largest volume of brick-and-mortar businesses. That has brought us double-digit percentage growth each quarter and we expect to see that well into 2022 and beyond.

Being a young female founder, I knew it was important to be omnipresent throughout our marketing strategy. We engaged in multiple layers of strategy, from influencer marketing with both macro influencers, or people with over a million followers, and micro influencers with more intimate but loyal followings. And we drove traffic through social media advertisements.

We also leveraged tried and true methods such as traditional product tasting teams across the country, in-store print advertising, billboards, and physical guerilla marketing like vehicle wraps. We see both brick-and-mortar and online sales as important, with an obvious trend toward online shopping, which is why we are currently scaling to different online platforms using traditional and new technological methods such as obtaining a large Instagram and Facebook footprint, SEO, online PPC and geotagging. But our product is a convenient grab-and-go snack and will always excel in the grocery, pharmacy, convenience and retail channels which we will continue to expand throughout the leading national retailers.

It would be great to hear some of the feedback from retailers and consumers.

We’ve got a lot of positive feedback, which is amazing. One of our main sources is product tastings on social media and strong relationships with our retail partners. Everyone enjoys the delicious fruity flavours we offer and the soft and squishy texture that does not get stuck in your teeth. People also love the variety of low-sugar candy and that we are 100% vegan. Overall, people love to have healthy treats that they can enjoy and feel good about eating, and that’s what we’re all about at Yumy Candy.

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about The Yumy Candy Company at https://yumybear.com/. 

Nepra Foods: Innovation and exclusive technology underpin a business strategy achieving rapid sales growth

Nepra Foods (CSE:NPRA) went public in September 2021 in an oversubscribed $7.5 million IPO that underlined the interest in plant-based meat, a market which, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, could top US$162 billion in size by 2030. The company has its roots in the gluten-free ingredients sector and is led by food industry veteran David Wood, whose grandfather started a butchers’ supply business in the 1930s.

Wood and partner Chadwick White, a master baker and now Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder of Nepra, were involved in the success of Udi’s Gluten Free Foods and Gluten Free Baking Solutions.

Nepra was born from a desire to create a consumer brand business using the company’s own innovative formulations. Today, it is a vertically integrated group, producing and selling multiple products across four segments: proteins, dairy alternatives, baked snacks, and spreads and ingredients. Sales in the nine months to September 30, 2021, totaled C$4.26 million, up from $1.75 million in the year-earlier period. Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine spoke to Wood, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, to find out what he anticipates the next phase of the Nepra story will look like.

Why do you think there is such a big move toward healthy foods and plant-based meat alternatives?

I think people have different reasons. Obviously, the environment is one big one. A lot of people want to do whatever they can and raising animals in the way we do is not the best for the environment. I also think the pandemic has brought on people’s concern about their personal health and they realize that what they eat is instrumental to how they feel. When people go plant-based, most of them don’t go fully vegetarian or vegan. They just eat more plants and less meat, and I think when they do they find out that they feel better. Their immune system response is better and their digestive systems work a bit better. And then there’s the animal cruelty side that a lot of people are concerned about, and just how we treat animals in general.

Tell us more about your proprietary THP (textured hemp protein). What is it? How did you get into it? Why is it such a game-changer?

When you make a meat alternative, you’re taking the protein from the plant and you have to texturize it to give it a similar texture to an animal product. Mostly it’s done with soy. But now they are texturizing all sorts of things – pea and chickpea and fava bean. But we are texturizing hemp, and as far as we know we’re the only ones currently doing that and we’re having really good luck. 

The biggest advantage is the flavour. Soy has an off flavour so you’ve got to cover that up when you make products out of it, and you end up using a lot of salt and other ingredients. Hemp has a very mild flavour. When we texturize it, the base product actually has a turkey flavour so it’s much easier to formulate meat analogues out of. Soy has some negative health aspects to it, too.

The reason we got into hemp is that our historical business is ingredients in the gluten-free space, so when you take gluten out of a product you have to replace it with something. And that’s how we came across working with hemp and found out that it’s very functional. Not only does it have good flavour, it’s functional when you bake with it or make food products out of it. It has a similar structural quality to eggs. You can take hemp protein and whip it into a meringue, so this really gives us an advantage on the food development side to come up with new products. As we started playing with it more, we found that not only could we use it for baking, but we could also make a lot of other products out of it.

Meat analogues are only one category. New products we’re coming out with include spaghetti and meatballs, a frozen food line and a pasta line. The spaghetti is actually made out of hemp as well because it’s high in protein, high in fibre and very healthy. So, as people eat more plant-based diets, they’ve got to come up with good protein sources. And they don’t necessarily want to eat things that look like meat. We’ve got formulations like pasta that is a good source of protein, or we also came out with snack items like pretzels.

You raised $7.5 million in your IPO. How are you going to use these funds to grow the business?

The company was founded in 2016 and our core business is ingredients. We import and distribute ingredients to all kinds of manufacturers across North America. We’re growing that business and because supply chains are a problem, especially when you’re bringing products in from overseas, we’ve used some of that capital to increase inventory, just so we can weather some of the shipping delays.

We’re also building out our facility in Colorado to produce more of the textured hemp protein and more of our high-protein flour. We’re currently selling hemp flour that is used in baking and that’s about a 55% protein content. And we’re putting in a pilot production line so we can produce the ProPasta meals here in our facility in Colorado to a point. When we really get into big distribution, then we’ll go to a co-manufacturer that has larger lines that can build the ProPasta meals. We’ve also hired a lot of staff. We’ve had to bring on quality control people and commercialization people. So that’s been some of the spend as well.

What other news should investors expect in the short to medium term?

We’ve announced the launch of our ProPasta line. Our big retail push is going to be in March, when there’s a big trade show in the US that is the place to bring your products to market and get in front of all the retailers.

Then we’ve got some new meat alternative products we’re working on. We’re finishing the purchase of the equipment for that. We will have some products coming out probably toward the middle of next year. 

The other thing we’re working on is the egg replacement capability that hemp has. In the food industry, when big food companies use eggs, they usually don’t use liquid eggs, they use egg powder and normally egg white powder. But because it’s an allergen and because it’s an animal product, a lot of food manufacturers want to get rid of it. We’ve developed an egg white powder replacement using hemp that will sell commercially. We use it in our own products, but we’ll also sell it. That’s going to be a game-changer because it will be a unique product. There are very few plant proteins that can mimic eggs so this is going to be a big item for us on the B2B side.

What would you say to investors looking at this space? What makes Nepra Foods stand out?

You look for innovation, you look for companies that are meeting the needs of consumers, and consumers are looking for nutrition and taste and texture. A lot of the plant protein companies are using old ingredients – soy or gluten. It’s not very innovative. I think a lot of companies, too, if you look at small public companies, don’t have revenue, or have very low revenue. We are not a new company. We’ve been around for years and we’ve got existing revenue and we’ve got multiple revenue streams because we sell ingredients B2B. And then we also have our own consumer side. I think it really gives us a leg up for success in the future. 

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Nepra Foods at https://neprafoods.com/.

Nabati Foods Global: Reach into retail, food service and international markets fuels expectations for strong growth in 2022

Consumers are making a conscious choice to eat more plant-based foods, both from a personal health perspective and to lessen their impact on the environment. Recently listed Nabati Foods Global (CSE:MEAL) is well positioned to benefit from this trend by providing natural, plant-based, gluten- and soy-free foods for consumers who make healthy eating a priority.

Operating since 2014, the family-founded food technology company has four signature product lines: dairy free cheesecakes, cheese alternatives, plant-based meats and a plant-based liquid egg alternative.

“There are a lot of consumers, so-called flexitarians, that are plant-based-curious and want to dip their toes into the water for the first time,” Nabati Foods interim Chief Executive Officer Michael Aucoin tells Canadian Securities Exchange Magazine. “And for us, that means providing the best experience possible – designing our products with great flavour and providing great product delivery.”

Aucoin brings more than 25 years of consumer packaged goods experience to his role, including as former Vice President of Sales at Hershey Canada. Nabati is relying on Aucoin’s expertise to help the company achieve its next phase of growth.

That growth is being driven by rising consumer demand for plant-based foods. In the United States, the market is valued at US$7 billion and expanded by 27% in 2020, according to the Plant-Based Foods Association. Interestingly, growth topped 25% in all US census regions, underscoring that the shift to healthier food choices is very broad-based in nature.

Nabati has already established first-mover advantage in one part of the Canadian marketplace with its Nabati Plant Eggz, a plant-based egg alternative that is free of all major allergens. The product is gluten-free, soy-free, cholesterol-free, vegan, kosher and made without genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or refined sugar.

Unlike other plant-based food producers that focus solely on the retail consumer, Nabati can also tailor its packaging to meet food service industry needs, a market segment that Aucoin says the company is attracting strong interest from, particularly due to the innovative nature of its products.

“A great example of this is our team being able to develop a cheese product that really mimics pizza cheese in terms of milk quality, which isn’t always the case with plant-based cheese, so we’re pretty excited about that,” Aucoin says.

According to Aucoin, the key to growing the company’s revenue is building a distribution network, and to that end Nabati already has products featured in more than 700 locations across North America. Some of its more recognizable nationwide retailers in Canada include Sobeys, Metro, Safeway, Whole Foods and online at Costco.ca, as well as food service outlets such as Cobs Bread and Mucho Burrito.

“The company has established distribution in South Korea, with other countries about to come on board,” Aucoin adds. In October 2021, Nabati announced that it was partnering with Nanum Foods to distribute Nabati Plant Eggz and dairy-free cheesecakes to retail store in South Korea and Vietnam. The products will be sold in Asia under the brand ITABAN.

Also in October, the company said it was partnering with IMCD Japan, a leading specialty chemicals and food ingredients distributor, to distribute Nabati’s full product line in Japan. The partnership will focus on distribution via food service, industrial and grocery channels.

“It’s about taking those great products and putting them in front of more consumers, building out our marketing plans to be able to communicate the quality of those products, and finding ways to have people sample. I think that’s one of the big opportunities across plant-based products,” Aucoin explains.

Aucoin says that Nabati has an innovative R&D team to determine how the company can evolve its product portfolio beyond the current four categories and capitalize on the next big plant-based food idea.

Over the next year, the interim CEO says he wants to see Nabati deliver “dramatic” revenue growth to a point where gross margin dollars translate all the way to the bottom line. 

“If you look at what our team’s done the last six to nine months, they’ve set up the business from an operational standpoint where we have material availability now to ship significantly more, which is a very good setup,” Aucoin says.

He adds that from a capacity perspective, the Nabati team has also been mindful of securing adequate inventories of strategic ingredients, as there’s been concern within the industry about availability of these crucial inputs.

In the longer term, Aucoin wants the company to continue to understand where the consumer is going and to enhance its brand to become an unquestioned leader in the plant-based space.

“In five to 10 years, we’ll have a material footprint in other major markets around the world, continue to evaluate whitespace opportunities from an R&D perspective to broaden our product line, and build upon our past success,” Aucoin concludes. “We’re very bullish about our future.”

This story was featured in the Canadian Securities Exchange magazine.

Learn more about Nabati Foods Global at https://invest.nabatifoods.com/.