P.E.I. producer bringing unique twist to cannabis extracts – Saltwire

A P.E.I. cannabis producer is carving out its own space in P.E.I.’s growing marijuana industry through its unique take on weed extraction.
Retro Cannabis, a micro-craft producer in Charlottetown, focuses on cannabis extract products, including full-spectrum honey oils and vape pens, as well as CBD oils and organic pre-rolls.
Andrew Costa, general manager of Retro, said what makes its products different from what others in the Island’s industry is how they produce their products.

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Costa said they use supercritical CO2 extraction to pull out and separate the vital cannabinoids in the flower, including terpene.
“Terpenes are the aroma characteristic that you can pull out when you’re doing extraction,” he said. “A lot of the larger (companies) would infuse their strains or their product with artificial terpenes to boost the content. We use all-natural, so when we’re extracting, we add the natural terpenes into the process, later on, to really bring out the flavour of the true strain of the cannabis flower that we’re using for that particular (product).”
To do this, Costa said production relies on special equipment built by Retro’s sister company, Advanced Extraction Systems, which turns CO2 into supercritical fluid to be used for extraction.
The unique extraction method allows the company to create products that highlight the flavour, aroma and experience when using it, something that is becoming more sought after by consumers in other similar industries, said Costa.
“If you look at the craft beer industry … where it’s at today, it’s shifted from focusing not so much on high alcohol percentage, but on the flavour, the aromas,” he said. “Right now, I think a lot of the market focuses on the THC percentage, so we have to find a balance right now. But our intent is that we give more than just that high THC content when we deliver a product. We’re giving the smell, the taste, the experience versus just the ability to get high.”
The addition of new competition and new ideas around production only helps build P.E.I.’s cannabis industry, said Alex Smith, CEO of FIGR, a local cannabis grower and producer and veteran of the industry, noting that the market is both collaborative and competitive.
“We’ve been happy to see some new players pop up over the last year, all different sizes,” he said. “I think that there’s a spot for everybody, but similar to any industry, you have to decide what your role is within the space. If you’re a craft business, if you have a unique product offering, if you’re larger scale, whatever you’re doing, you just have to spend the time to do it right.”
P.E.I. is on its way to becoming a leader when it comes to employment and growth in the cannabis industry, said Smith. If local, provincial and federal support remains, Smith said the sector could find new avenues of growth in the future, such as new, innovative products or even cannabis lounges.
“I think that certainly over time there is going to be a time when the industry grows, and new possibilities open up that simply aren’t available from a regulatory perspective today,” he said.
For new businesses to make it today though, especially nationally, they need an understanding of how the cannabis market works, what is in demand and how to navigate the unique channels each province uses to get products into consumers’ hands, said Smith.
While only in business for just under a year, Retro has managed to get its products approved for sale in multiple provinces all while remaining small in scale. The company operates out of a small section of office space and a shipping container converted into a production lab.
Size isn’t a problem for Retro, though. As the company is a micro-craft producer, it focuses on small batch production, which allows the company to work with local cultivators when sourcing cannabis for its products. It allows it to grow slowly instead of diving in headfirst, said Costa.
“We’re trying to find that balance of controlling our growth in relation to the markets were getting into and then growing our product lines as we go. We wanted to get our feet under us to feel like we’re not trying to run before we can walk,” he said.
Despite the desire to grow slowly, the future seems bright for Retro as the company prepares for its next step forward, which includes moving into the Manitoba market, opening the company up for public investment through the province’s Community Economic Development Business Program and collaborating with an iconic Maritime company – East Coast Lifestyle – for a new CBD oil product.
“We’re very excited about that partnership and the desire to blend two companies that have East Coast personas attached to them,” said Costa. “That’s a pretty unique and cool thing that we’re very excited to share with people.”
Source: Leafy.ca
Cody McEachern is a business reporter with the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island. He can be reached by email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @CodyInHiFi
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