OCS’s product call revamp is worrying some LPs

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A note to licensed producers from the Ontario Cannabis Store (first reported by StratCann.com) warning that the product call process is pausing this fall and will prevent new product launches in the province between November 2021 and April 2022 (!) is ruffling feathers. (See the copy from OCS’s note to producers below.)

Previously in Cannabis Daily: OCS makes the case against… the OCS?

“Your mandated government wholesaler at work impeding new products coming to market — OCS pausing product calls while they refine their process,” tweeted Matt Maurer, chair of the Cannabis Law Group  at Torkin Manes LLP.


What gives?

Bev Altberg, VP of merchandising at the OCS, acknowledged that it’s not an ideal situation, but that it’s time to change up the current eight-week window. She says it was necessary for the provincial wholesaler to rapidly stock up on SKUs post-legalization, but the pause will allow the OCS to increase the lead-time between launches and buys time to forecast and market incoming inventory.

“Now we can take a little bit of a pause to think more methodically about categories and strategies about longer term discussions instead of what’s coming in a few weeks,” she said. 



Product call #4 deadline extended

The OCS has also added in some padding to this summer’s scheduled Product Call #4, meaning that if LPs can get their submissions in before the extended deadline of August 13, they could take advantage of a third launch window on January 18, 2022.

More details coming

Altberg said she looks forward to taking LP partners through the new process in detail in August. In the meantime, industry commentators and insiders are theorizing that the change will benefit big LPs and hurt craft producers who aim to sell fresh nugs year-round.

“It always boils down to money, so I have to ask: Who is benefitting from this?” asked one Twitter account. “The only thing I can think of is the big LPs. They must have lobbied this to give them time to get ahead of craft growers who have been eating away at their profits.”



NOTE FROM OCS TO PRODUCERS

LP Partners,

I hope this note finds you all well and safe during this somewhat peculiar, yet optimistic time. For those I have not met, my name is Bev Altberg and I’m the “newish” VP of Merchandising, Marketing & Insights and Digital at the OCS. I look forward to meeting all of you over the coming months as we work together to build and nurture this amazing industry in Ontario.

While I plan on sharing our team’s vision and strategy over the coming months, I am writing today to let you know we our revamping our Product Call process for 2022. While the current process has been instrumental in building out Canada’s largest cannabis assortment, it is time to evolve. We will be moving towards a process that will allow more time for LP / category manager assortment alignment, joint forecasting and delivery preparation, and the development of tactics to support market success with our marketing, ecomm and wholesale teams.

I’ll be sharing the formal process with you in a webinar that will be scheduled for mid-August. In the meantime, our merchandising team wants to communicate the following to you ASAP to allow for thoughtful planning:

  • Product Call #5 has been cancelled and removed from https://www.doingbusinesswithocs.ca/product-call/.
  • The first launch window under the new process will be in April 2022.
  • Given the current Product Call #4 has launch windows of Oct and Nov, we recognize that a 5-month pause with no launches is not ideal.
  • As such, we will be adding a third launch window of January 18, 2022, to Product Call #4.
  • Though pre-submissions for Product Call #4 were due last Monday, we will allow for new submissions for this January 2022 window when final submissions are due on August 13th.

This information will be posted in the next day or two on https://www.doingbusinesswithocs.ca/product-call/.

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