A hemp company turns its focus on the retail sector
MIDDLEBURY — The folks at Northeast Hemp Commodities, who recently moved their offices to Middlebury, have opened their first retail store, Method Organics. Company founders plan to plan to sell CBD, CBG and other hemp-related products at the store on Exchange Street.
The key to their approach is transparency, said Northeast Hemp Commodities Marketing Director Jonathan Gregg.
“We put QR codes on all of our products,” he said. “People can scan them (with their phones) and see exactly what’s in each product.”
Through a process called “batch tracking,” the company can tell its customers about their ingredients, including where they came from, and their concentration.
“Know your source,” Gregg said.
Method Organics sells an array of products, from hemp-infused topicals to oil drops, edibles, premium flowers and pet products. Those products, and information about them, are also available on the company’s website, methodorganics.com.
Two cannabinoids feature heavily in their products — CBD (cannabidiol) and CBG (cannibigerol).
Compared with CBD, which has become more and more mainstream in the hemp world, CBG is just now emerging as a potential commercial product.
CBG is one of more than 100 cannabinoids (like CBD or THC) found in the hemp plant. Biotech companies and researchers have suggested that it holds promise for a number of medical purposes. Some people have said it helps them focus.
But at the moment it’s very expensive to extract because it appears in hemp plants at such low concentrations and requires specialized equipment for processing. It may be years before hemp plants are bred for high enough concentrations to make products economically feasible, but Northeast Hemp Commodities has faith that that will eventually happen.
In the meantime, they’re offering CBG products at the same price as those made from their less expensive CBD cousin.
“We want them to be accessible to people,” said Harley Fjeld, office manager for Northeast Hemp Commodities (NEHC). “We want all Vermonters to be able to get the benefits at a reasonable price.”
Because CBG research is still catching up, the folks at NEHC are keeping their product message simple: try it for yourself and see if you think it’s useful.
Northeast Hemp Commodities formed in the spring of 2018.
“I was very intrigued by the plant and what it can do for people,” said company founder Tylor Highter, who along with several of his colleagues graduated from Middlebury Union High School.
The NEHC team had originally meant to plant 10 acres of hemp that summer, but it quickly grew to 50.
“The industry was so new you didn’t know what to expect,” Gregg said. “There was no handbook.”
Highter spent a lot of time in the early days searching the internet for information — with very limited results.
“You’d go on YouTube and try to learn about drying hemp,” he said. “I mean, there are probably a million videos now, but when we first started there was nothing. I would look every night, like, ‘There’s gotta be something here,’” he added with a laugh.
The experience has given Highter a whole new respect for anyone who’s ever built something from the ground up, he said.
The following summer they arranged to have 185 acres planted.
“Being able to grow to scale and having a big challenge in front of you — it definitely fits our personality types,” Highter said. “We’ve been through some struggles, but the people and the vigor we have — these guys never cease to amaze me.”
This year the number of acres NEHC plants will depend on market conditions.
“Our goals have changed from the practicality of growing it to actually filling the gap and having a viable market for it,” said NEHC Chief Operations Officer Dillon Robinson. “Because overproduction is so easy, there has to be some sort of reasonable framework for people to work together and to be able to supply the market, instead of just everybody overselling their products.”
Which is why NEHC is moving more resources into its retail arm, Method Organics, he explained.
“We don’t need to grow 185 acres this year like we did last year.”
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