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Cultivators gets ready for GreenTech 2023:

“The number of cannabis projects in Europe might have decreased, the quality has improved”

As GreenTech approaches, it is an opportune moment to examine the European cannabis market. At the expo, cannabis is now part of the Plant Compound Pavilion that focuses on cultivation of plants specific for its compounds. The attention on cannabis in Europe and at the conference has certainly not diminished, according to Sonny Moerenhout from Cultivators. "While the number of projects in Europe might have decreased, the quality of cannabis projects has improved," he explains.

"In the European medicinal cannabis market, we used to see a proliferation of investors seeking to rush in, but now they think twice before getting involved. The players who are still entering the cannabis market are serious, have carefully considered their options, and are fully committed to their projects," Sonny states. This represents a significant shift compared to a few years ago. "We have seen players who built their facilities before even considering the prerequisites. That is no longer the case now, and fortunately so because it created cultivation problems. There have been establishments that do not comply with GACP (Good Agricultural Collection Practices) for the cultivation & GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) for post-harvest activities, making it difficult to deliver uniform, high-quality products." As an example, he mentions a cultivation greenhouse in an area with high humidity levels without active dehumidification is not possible. "That is asking for trouble."

Additional investments
Cultivators operate as partners in growing (consultants) and, unfortunately, have often been the bearers of bad news in recent years. "With such projects, you can often improve the cultivation significantly, but it requires additional investment, which is not something you want when the facility has already been realized." Sonny only welcomes the better preparations being made by entrepreneurs in the cannabis market. "Ideally, we are involved right from the beginning so that we can ensure informed decisions are made, and the right cultivation system, greenhouse, or supplies are chosen. This way, you don't have to reinvest later to deliver quality."

Another significant development is that growers are gradually starting to think more about the market. "Knowing who you are growing for and making cultivation choices based on that," summarizes Sonny. "In recent years, we have seen entrepreneurs who started growing for 'the German market,' for example, without having any idea of what that market requirements would look like. That is not the right approach." In the medicinal cannabis market, it is also crucial to consider the laws and regulations. "You cannot control governments, and they can suddenly change their stance. What will you do with your facility if legalization is halted or if quality requirements are modified? How flexible are you? It may not result in the cheapest installation, but it is important to think about spreading the risks."

Point of contact for suppliers
Over the years, Cultivators has also become a point of contact for suppliers. "They reach out to us and refer interested parties because proper preparation ultimately leads to better projects for both growers and suppliers. If careful thought has been given to cultivation space, lighting levels, and desired products, a greenhouse builder, for example, can provide a much more accurate specification."

Even for those suppliers, the medicinal cannabis market has turned out to be different from what was initially expected. "We have learned a lot in recent years," Sonny politely summarizes. While it was previously believed that knowledge of vegetable and ornamental horticulture would translate easily to cannabis, it turns out to be a different ball game. "We see that in the hydroponic lettuce cultivation projects that we also assist with," Sonny explains. "It is a crop with many other intricacies. Essentially, you are overseeing multiple companies within one: you are responsible for the propagation, cultivation, and post-harvest. That should not be underestimated, whether you are a grower or a supplier."

Cultivators will be at GreenTech Amsterdam at stand 05.581. The company also supported Greentech again with the knowledge program and will moderate the cannabis sessions. Click here to find out more about the Compounds Pavillion at GreenTech 2023.

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