Facebook Ban Pushes Finnish Hemp Processor to The Edge

Facebook Ban Pushes Finnish Hemp Processor to The Edge

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A company which spent almost €275,000 on Facebook advertising over three years has seen its sales plummet after the online media giant started rejecting their ads. Finland-based Hemprefine Oy spent five years developing its hemp processing line at a huge cost, founder Mikko Neuvo told HempToday.

“We invested everything we had and more to build the processing line and to provide Finnish customers with hemp products,” Neuvo said.

Because Facebook turned out to be the most efficient tool for targeting specific audiences, the company decided to invest a lot of time and money for building a hemp community to support its business model. “We had to aggressively advertise hemp products in Finland because we had to create the market from scratch,” Neuvo said.

Retailers don’t need ads

He suggests Hemprefine Oy ads helped create a demand which has seen Finnish retail shops import from larger producers, which has further undermined his company’s business.

“These retailers had no need for advertising because customers already know the product due to our efforts. Most of these customers also think that they are purchasing our products and retail chains don’t want to change that impression,” said Neuvo.

“Sometimes our ads were disapproved but problems were always solved with Facebook’s customer service.” Neuvo said he even had contact with Facebook’s London office in order to solve problems related to word hemp. He said he was encouraged to continue and Facebook’s staff really seemed to understand what Hemprefine Oy’s business is about.

Sudden shutdown

However, on one recent Sunday morning everything suddenly changed. “Facebook disabled my personal ad account without a warning. Sales plummeted about 90% due to Facebook being the only marketing channel I had,” Neuvo said. “After a few months we are having a cash crisis and a good possibility to go bankrupt.”

“As a startup company, we didn’t have enough working capital to survive 6 months with minimum sales. Now it seems improbable we can continue. But this is the risk hemp entrepreneurs have to take.” Neuvo laments. He adds other challenges exist including small changes in legislation, policies or regulations which can have profound effects on the industry.

Neuvo said Facebook’s behavior wouldn’t irritate him so much if Hemprefine Oy had just purchased and sold hemp products. “But we worked 16 hour days for 4 years to get our processing line working as it should” Neuvo said. “You can’t process spring-harvested, winter-retted biomass the same way you process dew-retted hemp, so we had to come up with unique solutions, and we managed to do it with decent costs.”

Knock-on effects

There have been other knock-on effects too. Many of Hemprefine Oy’s customers donated insulation fibre for rescue dogs and cats around Europe for the last two winters. “This year these animals will have to do without the fibre because we can’t get the message out with Facebook to ask people for donations,” Neuvo said.

Hemprefine Oy isn’t the only company encountering difficulties with advertising on Facebook. Last month Evo Hemp, a major American hemp company, reported having difficulties with the social media giant.

Canopy Growth Looks to Put $500 Million in USA Hemp

Canopy Growth Looks to Put $500 Million in USA Hemp

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Canada-based Canopy Growth plans to boost its investment in U.S. hemp to as much as $500 million by expanding beyond current operations in New York state, the company recently announced.

Canopy said it looks to move into two or three other states in the USA as state-by-state regulatory environments become more clear.

Canopy Growth, Smith Falls, Ontario earlier announced a $100-150 million investment in a hemp processing operation in New York after being awarded a license from the state in January.

“We’ll do it state by state right now, because what has to happen is the state needs to regulate what is permissible for CBD,” Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton told Yahoo Finance. “So we’ll probably have three or four states that have big populations and progressive leadership who want to have hemp become part of their actual job creation industrial platform.”

Indian Textile Startup Has Aggressive Growth Plans

Indian Textile Startup Has Aggressive Growth Plans

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Indian startup Canva Fibre Labs LLP (CFL) expects to scale up this year, pushing beyond its current capacity of one ton of production daily, say the company’s founders.

“We intend to take these textiles to mainstream brands and thus are actively solving problems like how the textile feels without compromising on functional advantages, and its processability on the current infrastructure of textile like spinning and weaving,” said Shikha Shah, one of CFL’s two founders.

CFL says it has developed an indigenous proprietary technique for processing of agricultural waste from hemp plants, with output that has compatibility with current textile infrastructure. The system offers 100% green processing in which no hazardous chemicals are used to process the fiber.

The opportunity

The company sees an opportunity in the need for processing technology as well as the imbalance between price and quality when it comes to hemp textiles, said Shreyans Kokra, who co-founded the company with Shah when the two were classmates at Babson College in the USA.

CFL grew out of a year-long project by the partners to create a company in the hemp industry. Kokra, 25, worked in the family textile business and has degrees in finance and business. He has worked in accounting and investment banking, co-founded a marketing start-up and previously was co-head of a textile manufacturing and technology firm.

Shah, 23, is educated in business and entrepreneurship. Her experience ranges from working in family businesses, a textile project, a filmmaking start-up, and working with American and European companies co-founding a textile manufacturing and technology company.

Goal: 5 tons per day

Having had their ups and downs through two years after launching the company, the partners say they are now poised to execute an aggressive growth strategy.

“We are going to introduce different blends of fibres, mostly all containing considerable hemp fibres for different textile applications,” said Kokra, noting the company has a goal to scale up production to 5 tons a day.

Identifying the company as an “alternative fibre and material science company,” Shah and Kokra see the challenges of the nascent hemp industry. “It isn’t about managing the supply chain; it’s about creating a strong one from the scratch,” said Shah, noting CFL will be “aggressively targeting some strategic tie-ups in the coming years.”

And while hemp is at the center of their plans for development, CFL will also be probing other natural raw materials such as banana and ramie for their potential in textiles.

Mission

Mission is also clear at Canva Fibre Labs. “Just like how oil and gas need alternative fuel and a target to make it go to the masses, we see ourselves taking alternative fibres to masses and reducing the carbon footprint of this industry,” Shah said.

Canva Fibre Labs was selected earlier this month as the top entry under the 2019 Asian Hemp Summit’s Entrepreneur Rewards Program that honors innovative business initiatives.

 

Taking The ‘Hemp’ Flag Into The Battle With Social Media Giants

Taking The ‘Hemp’ Flag Into The Battle With Social Media Giants

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Another skirmish in the broader battle to get “hemp” free in the social media space launched from Planet Boulder on Yahoo Finance (YF) earlier this month.

“We’ve been rejected by almost every single digital media company that’s out there,” Ari Sherman, founder of Colorado, USA-based Evo Hemp, a food and CBD seller, told YF.

More alarmingly, Sherman says he’s observed some big players getting preferential treatment from social media giants in allowing advertising for competing products.

Not a new problem

“They’re allowing them to advertise a few hemp products here and there,” Sherman said. “We couldn’t promote those exact same items,” Sherman told Yahoo, and the problem is not new.

Sherman told YF that Facebook has long rejected Evo Hemp’s ads for legal products such as hemp bars while running spots for competitors.

Noting his company sells its food products in well-known discount, retail grocers and even the Barnes & Noble Bookstore chain, he asks: “Why can I not advertise a product that is currently being sold in these stores?”

Sherman’s right to jump into this battle. And now.

As hemp’s profile rises across the many sectors it will impact, impressions are being drawn. Any good marketer will tell you there’s no better time to establish valuable brand equity than at the beginning of the boom buzz. And make no mistake about it: There’s a buzz on about hemp; from field to shelf. All over the world.

Hemp stakeholders need to ramp up the PR and hemp organizations should be pressing social media outlets to free the word “hemp” generally, and to ensure a level playing field for both big and small companies.

CBD: A different story

We’re afraid, however CBD is a different story. Aside from the regulatory questions raised when the FDA recently flashed its hand, there are serious image issues due to all the dodgy players on the market selling everything from penny stocks to questionable formulas made in their basements. It’s a problem in Europe as well as North America.

The social media giants are understandably cautious amidst the utter confusion that reigns in the public mind over CBD — and that’s all around the world. Don’t expect that to be sorted out anytime soon.

But “hemp” will be. It won’t be about freedom of commercial speech or any of that platitudinous rot. As the industry grows and takes a bigger seat at the table across a wide number of sectors, it’ll be about money. That’s something the social media giants will recognize sooner or later. – KR

 

U.S. Farm Bill Emerges From Congress With Hemp Provision Intact

U.S. Farm Bill Emerges From Congress With Hemp Provision Intact

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U.S. lawmakers have reached an agreement on the 2018 federal Farm Bill, leaving intact a provision that will let American farmers grow, process and sell hemp – removing restrictions that have held back the industry in the USA.

Lawmakers in both houses of the U.S. Congress are expected to vote in favor of the measure and send the full bill to President Donald Trump for signing this week.

Bi-partisan issue

The hemp provision* got unusual bi-partisan support in the Congress mainly because of farm state legislators’ goal to bolster the fortunes of their farming constituencies.

It essentially categorizes hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s list of schedule 1 drugs. Passage is expected to significantly boost CBD sales and advance other hemp sub-sectors

“With today’s signature, my provision to legalize industrial hemp is one step closer to reality. Looking forward to voting YES on this bill and sending to (President Donald Trump).” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who championed the hemp provision in the United States Congress, and whose state has been particularly hard hit due to a long decline in the tobacco market.

Felon ban is retained

The final bill includes a controversial “compromise” in the hemp provision reached last week that bars drug felons from growing hemp until 10 years after their convictions, but which allows felons already growing hemp under an earlier Farm Bill (2014) to continue in the business.