Choosing the right partner for your CBD brand
One of our longtime customers recently told us that they spent six months looking for a contract manufacturer for their CBD brand, and had conversations with over 40 companies before deciding on Kria Botanicals. Their homework paid off. In 18 months, their sales have increased by 500% and Kria is now producing a large line of products for their fast-growing brand, and scaling our production to support their growth.
Choosing the right co-manufacturer is critical to your brand’s success, regardless of whether you are a start-up business or an established national brand. Since CBD is still a new industry, few of the entrepreneurs and operations managers in this market are experts in cannabinoid extraction, formulation, and packaging. When managing a product, you are not only dealing with the challenges of bringing new products to market and differentiating yourself from your competition, you are also learning how to read COAs, differentiate between extraction methods, and understand how products are formulated.
These are tricky waters to navigate, and having a good co-manufacturer means having a partner who will support you on your journey. Here are some things to look for when considering a co-manufacturer for your CBD brand.
Quality of the hemp
Hemp production has exploded in the past five years nationally, with millions of acres of hemp being grown. With that growth has come a race to the bottom, both in CBD prices and in hemp quality. With mass production and lower quality standards, a lot of hemp on the market is low in cannabinoids and high in pesticides, mold, and heavy metals. Some farms boast of their “organic” growing methods but don’t back it with proof of USDA organic certification.
At Kria, we only source hemp from our home state of Vermont, from small farmers we’ve known for years, on land that we’ve walked, and that’s been dried and stored in proper conditions. We know the importance of quality hemp, because we’ve grown it ourselves. For two years, prior to creating Kria Botanicals, our co-founder Dan Chang grew, dried, and stored several acres of CBD hemp. We know quality hemp, and we’re highly selective in what we choose to use in our extraction lab.
All of our hemp is certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers, a USDA certifying organization that is a national leader in the organic farming movement. Our partner farmers meet strict guidelines for soil quality, soil amendments, and best farming practices. Certified organic hemp is non-GMO and never treated with pesticides, and the plants are toxin- and additive-free.
We chose the word Botanicals for our name intentionally, because our focus is not just on one plant, but on the herbal apothecary that so many consumers are demanding. Our herbalist, Emma Merritt, is a star in the Vermont herbalism world, bringing years of experience and deep knowledge to Kria. Emma shares the belief that blending CBD, CBG, and other cannabinoids with herbal extractions and essential oils is a unique value proposition, and produces a superior product that not only tastes great but really works.
So if you’re looking for creative, custom CBD formulas that incorporate the herbal apothecary – from chamomile to reishi and everything in between! – Kria is the place. We love trying new formulas and developing new products. One of the highlights of our work CBD is getting feedback from our customers when they try samples of our custom-made formulas, and we feel a great sense of pride when we see them bringing their CBD products to market.
There are plenty of extraction labs that operate as CBD factories, cranking through thousands of pounds of hemp in a day in the race to create a commodity product for the brands you see on the shelves at gas stations. That’s not us. If you’re looking for mass-produced CBD, Kria Botanicals is the wrong choice.
But if you’re looking for the highest quality CBD extracts perfected from years of experience and research, Kria is the place. We are Vermont’s first certified organic hemp processor, and we employ two methods of extraction: CO2, and certified organic ethanol. While there’s a lot of discussion about which of these two (and the many other) methods of extraction are best, both produce a high-quality oil. In general, we use CO2-extracted oil in our ingestible products, and ethanol-extracted oil in body products. CO2 is more expensive and takes longer to extract, while ethanol allows for greater throughput.
Regardless of which extraction method we use for your product, we can produce a wide range of resulting products, including crude oil, strain-specific terpenes, distillate, and THC-free crude and distillate. All certified organic. All Kosher certified. All made in Vermont using state of the art technology.
Internal testing capacity
An often overlooked capability of a contract manufacturer is internal HPLC testing. Third party testing is essential for any lab – and Kria uses several trusted ISO-certified third party labs to verify that our hemp, extracts, and final products are free of contaminants and mold, and meet labeling requirements. But having the ability to conduct internal cannabinoid tests on our extracts and products is key to our production process.
Our lab staff has years of HPLC experience, allowing us to save valuable time and money and pass on those savings to our customers. Internal testing also improves our quality control and quality assurance processes so that our products are tested constantly and consistently.
When we founded Kria Botanicals three years ago, we made a decision to start a lab that met the highest standards of good manufacturing practices. We reached out to regulators, fire marshals, and safety inspectors and offered our lab as a model for smart regulation by the state of Vermont. While that decision required a lot of extra time and money, it was worth it. We’re very proud of our lab – a 7,000 square foot, state of the art facility with the best equipment available on the market.
Third party auditors agree. We’ve been audited by a wide range of certifying bodies, including rigorous inspections for organic certification, Kosher certification, and audits by our major customers who send their quality assurance teams to our lab for site visits. Some labs prefer to operate in the shadows of an industry that is largely unregulated. We go in the opposite direction, embracing transparency and welcoming third party scrutiny.
Years of experience
Let’s be honest: no one has decades of experience in the CBD hemp industry, because it hasn’t existed that long. Sure, hemp is the same plant as high-THC cannabis, with different cannabinoid profiles, and plenty of growers and processors have deep experience operating in the underground cannabis markets. But it’s rare to find lab operators with more than a couple years experience working in both extraction and hemp farming.
Kria is one of those labs. We’ve been extracting, formulating, and bottling hemp products for three years, and growing and drying hemp for two years prior to that. Five years of experience in the hemp CBD market is a lifetime, and we’ve watched the industry evolve and mature in a very short period of time. Along the way, we’ve faced tough decisions, made a few mistakes, and learned from them. Our trials and tribulations directly benefit our customers, as we can help them avoid our mistakes and capitalize on our successes.
When looking for a contract manufacturer, consider the range of services and products they offer. Are they only offering extraction services? Selling only in bulk? If so, have you considered the cost of shipping your raw materials to yet another contract manufacturer for further formulation and packaging? With ever-decreasing margins in the CBD space, and ever-increasing competition, it’s critical to save time and money in your supply chain.
That’s why Kria offers turnkey service. We source the hemp, we extract it, we formulate it to your specifications – and then we bottle and box it for you. Our bottling lines can support thousands of bottles every day, saving you time and money in the process. We provide white label CBD dropshipping, private label CBD product development, and wholesale hemp products – a turnkey solution to your brand’s needs.
Turnkey service is great, but brands need ongoing support throughout the process of bringing their products to market. Being a partner to your brand means being available to you – to develop products, source packaging materials, and answer questions that inevitably arise as you create a CBD brand. Kria specializes in personal service. We’re available and accessible, ready to help. You’ll have an individual Kria team member assigned to your brand, and our whole team, from the co-founders to our extraction specialists, is available when you need us.
Ability to scale
Kria understands what it’s like for our customers to scale their businesses, because we’ve experienced that challenge ourselves. We’ve grown significantly in the years since our co-founding, and we’ve pivoted to meet the demands of a turbulent market (not to mention a global pandemic). We started in a garage, and now we’re operating in a facility that can produce thousands of units of finished products in a day.
We’re proud of the fact that we have both low minimum requirements, and the ability to fulfill regular orders for large national brands. That balance of personalized service with the ability to scale is rare in CBD co-manufacturing labs, and Kria has struck that balance throughout our time in business.
Commitment to values
Kria Botanicals is a value-based business. We wanted to create a business that benefited Vermont’s struggling agricultural economy. Kria builds on our past work as Peace Corps Volunteers, political advocates, and entrepreneurs by growing jobs, empowering our employees, and creating sustainable communities. We see the return to the herbal apothecary as central to our company’s mission, and we seek to work with brands whose values reflect our own.