On this episode of BofC Live, we connect with Jordon Skerrett who is the Vice President of Finance and Strategy at Pantry. Pantry is a cannabis edibles manufacturer that has developed a strong brand presence in California and Colorado – and will be entering the Canadian market in the next two weeks, starting in Ontario. We wanted to connect with Skerrett to talk about Pantry’s business, unique approach to edibles and how that approach is being brought to the Canadian market – starting in Ontario and then into Alberta.
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BofC Live Transcript
Rosenthal: Welcome to BofC Live, the daily video and podcast series of Business of Cannabis. BofC Live highlights the companies, brands, people and trends driving the global cannabis sector. Find out all that we do at businessofcannabis.com. Coming up, a conversation with Jordan Skerrett. He is the Vice President of Finance and Strategy at PANTRY. They are bringing their US based edibles formulations to Canada. We wanted to connect with him about how that process has been and what we can expect to see on shelves.
Jordan, thanks for being here.
I’m glad to have you, not only because I am a lover of edible cannabis products, but I’m interested in the PANTRY story. Give us a little bit about PANTRY, where it started, where it is now and then we’ll get to where we’re coming.
Skerrett: PANTRY is a better-for-you edible company. And the real inspiration came from our co-founders who have both been joint consumers for a very long time. And eventually, you know, their lungs started to retaliate and fight back.
So naturally they decided to switch to healthier consumption methods and that brought them into the edible space. And while they’re on their edible search, as many consumers do, they put the packaging over and looked at the nutritional facts and soon realized that there was one really overwhelming common theme: they’re all highly processed, highly artificial, low quality junk food that just happened to have cannabis in it. And this is Los Angeles we’re talking about – so you know like the health conscious capital of the world. So there seemed to be a large disconnect between health and wellness and the Canada space and they knew they weren’t the only people that felt that way and wanted a healthier edible products and that’s really when the light bulb went off and PANTRY was created. Everything starts and ends with our products. So we’re very focused on the ingredients we use that they were of great quality, They were properly sourced because garbage and becomes garbage out and we didn’t want that.
So we decided to partner with Michelin Star chefs to develop our recipes. We got insight from nutritionists and doctors to ensure our products had adequate nutrition. And then in terms of formulation is kind of the litmus test for us was would you buy these products even if you remove the cannabis out of it? And that’s really how we built our product line. And you know, our product line is created for consumers that ultimately care what they’re putting into their body and aren’t just looking for benefits provided by THC and CBD, but desire other functional ingredients to help fuel them throughout the day or night. So, for example, in California, our Good Day bites, they have Lions Mane to support cognitive function. We have our Night Bites with CBN and valerian root to promote relaxation and sleep and so on. So we’ve created a suite of products that have several additional benefits and ultimately trying to elevate the standard of what an edible is and offer more than just candy and cannabis.
Rosenthal: It’s interesting because the PANTRY story marries up with the data and analytics we know from consumers who are buying edibles. It tends to skew more discerning, tends to skew older, it because it skews older – it is a more refined audience. Like the flavor of most edibles hasn’t actually caught up to the demographic that is actually buying them yet. But I think we see with PANTRY and some other brands too and and sort of the more mature markets can – California and Colorado – that like this is not only just an emerging part of the sector but it really increasingly important. And I think, and I’ll ask you this question like really sets the tone.
I think for the rest of the cannabis industry too is that garbage in garbage in is something we ought to pay attention to. Candy is not the only format that people want to eat. We ought to be offering sort of a full suite of products with a full suite of cannabis consumers. And I think PANTRY is in that sweet spot having come from LA.
Skerrett: I think you really hit the nail on the head there. We’re kind of going after that “know better do better” clientele where people, if you give them candy with cannabis. Okay. Yeah, they’re fine with it. That’s completely adequate. But then when you start introducing other products with Lions Mane and other functional ingredients, it makes people think of like, “oh yeah, you know what, I don’t have to go down and just get a candy product, highly artificial product. I can get something that whether or not it had cannabis and it will have really functional benefits.” And then you layer that with the THC and CBD and it really is kind of this powerhouse product.
Rosenthal: Talk a little about taking the brand to Canada from California and Colorado – because it is a category based on formulations, based on recipes. It’s obviously easier to cross borders because it’s a formulation rather than a flower product.
Skerrett: I’ll focus on Canada for this one and for us, Canada was a really large addressable market. So from a strategy standpoint, it made a lot of sense. Ever since federal legalization, Canada has been on our radar and the first thing for us was to find a license and partner that could match our standard of quality, could scale up if needed. And we’re ultimately looking to grow with us and be collaborative partners because it really is all about the people at the end of the day and we were really fortunate to find a partner out of Dynaleo out of Alberta who checked all of those boxes. And they happen to be the largest gummy manufacturer in the country and had a really unbelievable team around them, from management to the kitchen team. They really worked hand in glove with us to make it all possible. We were really thankful for that. Then in terms of the process sticking on Canada, it’s kind of like that meme “expectations versus reality” where the two completely different things. Canada’s intense regulations make it a really tedious and long process. Then when you get really close, like we were so excited, “okay, we’re ready to sell” – then Ontario pushes back their purchasing dates a couple of times. We found definitely things in the cannabis space take a bit longer than expected. But on a positive note, we’ve been really fortunate enough to have great Canadian partners that helped guide us and it’s been a long time coming, but we strongly believe it’s well worth the wait join.
Rosenthal: How do you believe cannabis consumers in Canada are actually enjoying the edible array right now?
Skerrett: I think there’s a great question and I’d love to see like a LinkedIn survey on this because I think it really depends on who you ask. So looking at my friend circle, I would say the majority of edibles in Canada are all right and my friends have been enjoying it. Most of them consume cannabis from a relaxation and a wellness standpoint, so they’re consuming anywhere from 5 to 10 mg. So that’s a dosage that kind of works within the bounds of Canada.
But one thing I found really surprising and interesting since Canada introduced edibles are the new consumers it brought to the market. I have some close friends whose parents got into edibles as a way to help them sleep or for a way to help them relax after work. And these are the same people five years ago that had perception of cannabis being this terrible thing and something to avoid. So I think through that lens, I think Canada’s roll out of edibles being lower dose, makes it less intimidating for someone who’s kind of curious and it ultimately brings more credibility to the industry not to mention some of these consumers. If you’re having trouble sleeping, these are very loyal consumers once they find a product they like, they stick with them. So I think there’s some benefits there for their brands. And once you get that initial buy and I think the cannabis culture transforms entirely from this hush, hush topic to a more mainstream in the sense that it’s not taboo to talk about in larger circles and cannabis in my opinion is something that can help a lot of people with things like sleep anxiety and many other ailments. I think consumers are really starting to realize that. So I’ll give Canada some credit on that roll out.
On the flip side. I think the lack of branding and the restrictive marketing channels make it really difficult for brands to differentiate, to educate and properly connect with that end-consumer in ways that are currently being done in other States. And also just talking about dosage, there’s a lot of high dose consumers that have chronic pain and having a 10 mg per package limit is really a no-fly zone for them. It completely alienates any high dose consumer from buying legal edibles and those are the people that are still in the illicit market. So in the coming years, I’d love to see those marketing restrictions loosen as well as that maximum dosage increase, which I think it’s better for the consumer, ultimately better for Provinces from a tax standpoint and better for the brands as well. So overall, I think it’s been good, it’s been good progress, but I do think we’re not at the finish line just yet.
Rosenthal: I’m going to take that snip and send it directly to Health Canada. Jordan, give us a hint what will be the first couple of products that will see from PANTRY on shelves?
Skerrett: So we’re bringing to gummie flavors for initial launch. One is going to be passion fruit guava, which will be THC only and the other is going to be a peach flavor which will be 1 to 1 THC and CBD. I gotta say Dynaleo has done an unbelievable job with the texture, the overall flavor profile and it packs a punch. We couldn’t be more excited. Both products are vegan, they’re made with real fruit, we use pectin instead of gelatin and they both come with five pieces in a pack. So it gives the consumer the ability to scale their dosage from that micro does to a low dose into higher doses because there’s nothing worse than having one great tasting edible and then not being able to enjoy anymore. So we kept that in mind.
And in terms of launch: We’re launching in Ontario in two weeks and in Alberta in three weeks. And then we’re looking at British Columbia and some other provinces in the months to come. And especially for me being a Canadian on the team, I’m super pumped to, to share the product with friends and family for the first time. And it’s just the beginning for us. And I know that the next steps for us are looking for lower sugar alternative products, Nanotech, possibly some infused olive oil, maybe some infused maple syrup. This is really just the beginning for us and we’re going to look to continue to innovate and develop some more unique and healthier products for the Canadian market.
Rosenthal: I like that. The Canadian on the team is pushing for infused maple syrup. That’s just so on brand. I love it. Well Jordan, thanks so much for your time and we look forward to seeing PANTRY on Ontario shelves in two weeks and for our friends in Alberta in three weeks. Thanks for your time will connect with you down the road.
Skerrett: All right, thanks so much Jay.