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Holly Alberti, Berkshire Roots

US (MA): Focusing on innovation and sustainability in a competitive market

"With the market continuing to expand, there are more possibilities for cannabis businesses in Massachusetts. In a competitive market, it is even more important for us to continue to focus on our pillars of success: innovation, guest or customer experience, sustainability, and community," says Holly Alberti, Sr. Director of Marketing at Berkshire Roots. The vertically integrated cannabis company has been operational in the medical market since 2018, and in April of 2019, the team entered the adult-use market as well. Last year, the team expanded their cultivation into a brand new building, a much larger facility. "From organizing an accredited college rotational program to new partnerships and collaborations, we continue to look at new ways to support the market, consumers, and the community."

A meticulous process
"The cultivation team continues to dial in techniques to ensure our cannabis plants thrive. Many don't realize the amount of time, effort, and detail that goes into growing cannabis. At Berkshire Roots, the cultivation process is meticulous. We uphold very rigid standards," says Holly. "This is a sterile clean environment, and the importance of that starts through our training programs, standard operating procedures, and daily processes. The team does an amazing job day in and out with what they do."

When it comes to genetics, the team does some of their own phenotype hunting. "It's a long process but well worth it to find the best and fullest expression of that strain, and we also work with some great partners to source the best genetics. Throughout everything we do, the passion our team has shines through. We strive to continue to raise the bar and set higher standards for ourselves and the industry," Holly declares.

A changing market
Holly explains that the Massachusetts regulations have been changing over the years as they continue to refine the program and expand new license types in the state. When Berkshire Roots started in 2018, the only option was to be a medical vertically integrated cannabis company with indoor cultivation only, and at the time, there were only a few producers in MA. Now, there are more cultivators and manufacturers, plus the state has also allowed outdoor and greenhouse cultivation. "The market is still in a nascent stage, even though medical cannabis has been available in states like California since the early 90s. We continue to see shifts and adjustments in the Massachusetts market and surrounding states," Holly mentioned.

One of the ways that Berkshire Roots is differentiating itself in the competitive market is by continuing to adapt and innovate. "We just expanded our cultivation capabilities, adding a three-story state-of-the-art building. The increase in canopy space gives us more room to grow, literally and figuratively. We are testing out some new strains, but don't worry, and we won't get rid of the popular and award-winning Orange Chemeleon. Our C1 D1 laboratory was another addition that allowed us to produce new concentrates using hydrocarbon extraction. With our additional capacity, we will continue to grow our offerings and relationships with more wholesale partners across the state. You can find Berkshire Roots products in over 65 locations across MA currently. These additional expansions allow the team to try new techniques, equipment, and processes as we continue to dial in and refine."

Holly explains that it can be challenging to follow all the regulations and be as sustainable as they would like to be. "We try to do our best, but sometimes things are not as efficient as we would prefer due to the state regulations. For example, rules around child-resistant packaging and labeling requirements, unfortunately, at times, create more waste." Therefore, the company tries to think outside of the box to find other ways of being more sustainable. "Any chance we have to be better, more sustainable, or less wasteful is very important, as we know that the result is very impactful on a larger scale. We are working on being more efficient throughout our operation. When it comes to packaging, we work with several companies. Some of them are local so that the materials don't have to travel as far, lowering the carbon footprint. We also look for materials that are curbside recyclable or made from recycled materials. We constantly continue to explore new options and companies that can provide better, more sustainable options and alternatives. All of those things can be really helpful and better for the environment and better for the industry."

Berkshire Roots also partners with Berkshire Community College to provide cannabis education to students. "Each semester, students are brought through a hands-on practicum where they go through a rotational program within several departments at Berkshire Roots. They learn firsthand what it is like to operate in a large-scale cannabis cultivation facility. Students also gain experience in the retail setting. This is a great opportunity for students interested in working in the cannabis industry. We hired several students after the completion of their rotation. Education is key to furthering not only the entire industry but to continue to normalize and integrate cannabis into the mainstream."

"When it comes to products, innovation again is of great importance," Holly says. "Therefore, we are always looking for new products, brands, and groups to collaborate with. For example, we recently began working with Yellow Labs to manufacture and distribute their THC oral mist spray. It was a great opportunity for us to get involved, bringing a different delivery method to our guests as well as our wholesale customers." The company will soon be announcing more on their recent partnership with Cookies. "We are excited to be their exclusive retail partner in Berkshire County. Cookies is well known across the entire world, and we are thrilled to be able to work with such an amazing team."

For more information:
Berkshire Roots 

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