DENVER, April 17, 2019 /CNW/ -- Ever since the Farm Bill was signed into law, farmers across the United States have rushed into hemp cultivation, driving demand for the supplies needed to grow the crop necessary to meet surging CBD use.
- Global hemp industry to reach $22 billion in 2022.
- CBD market could increase 40 times in the next four years.
- Hemp farming skyrockets to meet demand.
- Serious squeeze on hydroponic and cultivation supply products.
Hemp is booming across the country, and nowhere more so than in Kentucky, where the applications to grow hemp are expected to increase fivefold, and acreage dedicated to growing the crop is set to more than triple this year. At the forefront of this explosive market growth, Sugarmade Inc. (OTC:SGMD) (SGMD Profile) recently inked a strategic supply contract with Hempistry Inc., a leading Kentucky-based cultivator of high CBD content hemp. Since passage of the farm bill, other major Canadian producers have also been making deals to expand hemp and CBD operations south of the border. Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY) announced the acquisition of a large hemp foods maker, and Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE:CGC) (TSX: WEED) is making substantial investments in New York state. Aphria (NYSE:APHA) (TSX: APHA) temporarily withdrew from the U.S. market while fighting off a hostile takeover bid. And after a $1.8 billion investment from a U.S. tobacco giant, Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ:CRON) (TSX: CRON) is expanding globally with eyes to the U.S. markets in the future. Even the largest Canadian licensed producers are betting on hemp CBD, underscoring titanic market growth.
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The Money Pump
In the course of only a few years, CBD extracted from hemp is now marketed for everything from pain relief and reducing inflammation to relieving stress and anxiety. CBD is sold in an array of products from shampoos, lotions and oils to drinks, pet treats and granola. The popularity of CBD isn't likely to wane any time soon, and the soaring popularity is reflected in market projections.
The CBD boom was presaged by passage of the Farm Bill, an absolute sea change in the balance of power in global hemp markets. Historically, the United States had been an importer of hemp products, but now the U.S. market is expected to lead the global hemp industry reaching an eye-popping $22 billion in 2022. With a market expected to increase 40-fold in the next four years, its little wonder there's such an enormous upsurge in hemp cultivation.
To achieve quality and consistency, much of the hemp cultivated in North America isn't grown from seed but is cloned or propagated from existing hemp plants. Known as micropropagation, this process allows for a large number of plants to be readied simultaneously, facilitating stable, consistent production and guaranteeing that the plants are exact genetic copies of the most desirable mother plants. Its exceptionally important in hemp cultivation to produce healthy, high-content CBD plants with all the characteristics required by hemp-product producers.
This process gives cultivators more control over how their plants grow and results in more valuable crops. The rapid vegetative propagation of plants under the controlled conditions of light intensity, temperature and precise nutrient mediums requires unique equipment and supplies. The nationwide surge in hemp production has created shortages and increased demand for these much-needed hydroponic supplies. With the boom in hemp cultivation occurring this planting season, many of the supplies required for successful micropropagation operations are in short supply. This supply squeeze has spawned an unprecedented industry opportunity.
The Right Moves
Identifying the upside early, Sugarmade Inc. (OTC:SGMD) has been making all the right moves to capture an outsized share of this burgeoning new market. A specialty product and brand marketing company, Sugarmade invests in and develops products and brands with disruptive potential.
Expanding its footprint in the supply of high-demand hydroponic and cultivation products, the company has been on an acquisition spree and executing new supply contracts to capture an ever-increasing market share. The latest supply contract with hemp cultivator Hempistry reflects Sugarmade's hydroponic trajectory. Utilizing advanced plant genetics and technological innovation, Hempistry is now scaling operations to approximately 2,600 acres aggregated between its subsidiaries, while adding to the product value chain and enhancing production efficiencies.
To achieve these objectives requires a secure, reliable source of specialty equipment and supplies. Sugarmade recognized the potential windfall last year and locked in an option to invest $1 million in Hempistry. That relationship has blossomed into a supply agreement that should serve both companies extremely well. Hempistry is acquiring supplies for its hemp micropropagation operation from Sugarmade, and expectations are that this supply relationship will flourish as Hempistry expands operations domestically and internationally. The agreement will ensure supplies reach supply-starved Kentucky, which is on the leading-edge of the hemp cultivation boom.
"Industrial hemp is promising and is the fastest area of growth in Kentucky agriculture," said Ryan Quarles, Kentucky commissioner of agriculture, in an interview with CNBC. "We don't know if industrial hemp will replace tobacco, but we are going to champion it."
Sugarmade CEO Jimmy Chan, now also a director at Hempistry, commented, "With at least 42,000 acres of hemp expected to be planted in Kentucky and considering an average plant density per acre of well over 1,000, farmers in Kentucky will need hundreds of millions of clones over the coming years. When these numbers are multiplied over the many other hemp cultivation states, it is easy for anyone to see the strong demand scenario that is quickly developing. We have already received our first shipments of micropropagation supplies, and we are in process of making deliveries. Sugarmade plans to significantly expand our operations relative to hemp cultivation."
E Pluribus Unum
Out of many, one. The Latin phrase emblazoned on U.S. currency should be the slogan for what's happening in the fractured and fragmented specialty hydroponic supply industry. With demand reaching epic proportions, the clutch of small and inefficient supply companies is ill prepared to service the requirements of the blooming hemp industry.
Cognizant of the shortfall, Sugarmade is on a mission to consolidate the fragmented industry by strategically acquiring other synergistic hemp-based operations. Sugarmade's brands already include: Zenhydro.com, a comprehensive online hydroponics supply outlet; AthenaUnited.com, a specialist company providing hydroponic supplies to large commercial cultivators; CarryOutSupplies.com, a leader in paper and plastic supplies; and BudLife Cannabis Storage Solutions, which offers the world's only patented intelligent packaging, storage and distribution for medicinal plants.
Continuing its consolidation strategy, Sugarmade recently announced that it will acquire the flagship operation of Washington State-based Hydro4Less, which is expected to produce about $5 million in revenues and be profitable this year. In the agreement, Sugarmade also gained an option to purchase two additional Hydro4Less retail operations, currently producing in excess of $20 million annually.
"Sugarmade is expecting to realize exceptional revenue growth this year from all of our hydroponic-related market sectors," said Chan. "We are excited about having the very talented staff of Hydro4Less join the Sugarmade family of companies. We continue to seek additional acquisitions to further boost our already expected robust revenue growth rate."
Expanding on a 2017 master marketing agreement with Bizright LLC where Sugarmade would sell its products, Sugarmade also announced that it will acquire Bzrth Inc., a sister company of Bizright. These accretive acquisitions will make Sugarmade one of the largest publicly traded hydroponic supply companies in the world.
"Sugarmade plans to integrate these businesses fully as soon as is possible, making us one of the larger suppliers to this growing marketplace," stated Chan. "Additionally, we are in process of vetting other possible acquisitions to further enhance our portfolio of hydroponic and cultivation supply products. We are certainly excited about our prospects for the remaining part of this year and into next yea" stated Chan.
Northern Neighbors Look to Capitalize
In its most expensive acquisition to date, Canadian based Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY) announced that it has agreed to purchase Manitoba Harvest for $317 million in cash and stock to bolster its thrust into the U.S. CBD product market. Manitoba Harvest claims to be the world's largest hemp food maker. With operations around the globe, Tilray now expects to launch CBD-derived products in the United States as early as this summer.
Less than a month after the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE:CGC) (TSX: WEED) announced plans to invest up to $150 million to establish its first U.S. production facility in New York state. The company plans to establish large-scale production capabilities focused on hemp extraction and product manufacturing. Canopy called its expansion into the United States "another example of the strategic advantage" last year's $4 billion investment Constellation Brands provides the company.
Aphria (NYSE:APHA) (TSX: APHA) temporarily withdrew from the U.S. market while fighting off a $2 billion hostile takeover bid from U.S.-based Green Growth Brands. Aphria rejected the bid saying it was being undervalued. Located in the greenhouse capital of Canada, Aphria Inc. is one of world's lowest cost producers
With international production and distribution, Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ:CRON) (TSX: CRON) is committed to building disruptive intellectual property by advancing research, technology and product development. The Cronos Group is building a global network with partnerships, joint ventures, production and distribution spreading across five continents. Cronos Group is intent on building an iconic brand portfolio around the globe.
Evaluating what has transpired and the projections of what is to come, the hemp markets and affiliated products and services appear to be sectors that could offer incredible returns. With multiple contracts in place, several acquisitions completed with more pending and planned, plus immense opportunity ahead, Sugarmade is hotly pursuing its mission to be a dominant player in the hydroponic supply industry piece of that pie.
For more information about Sugarmade, please visit Sugarmade Inc. (OTC:SGMD).
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