“When looking at the global supply chain, the ability to maintain the quality and freshness of cannabis post-harvest is incredibly important. We’re still learning so much about how growers can get the best quality out of their products and maintain that over storage, transport, packaging, etc. Water activity (aW) plays a major part in that,” says Claire Erickson, Industry Programs Manager at Boveda. She explains that water activity is a measure of the energy status of water surrounding an item. ”It is advisable to adhere to a specified water activity range of 0.60 (± 0.05), which correlates to 55-65% relative humidity (RH). If you dry the flower below this level, terpenes evaporate, and the quality of your flower is compromised. If the aW of the flower exceeds this level, there is a risk of developing mold and microbial growth. Therefore, it’s critical to control water activity to achieve optimal RH levels and maintain it throughout the entire supply chain.”
How does it work?
Boveda has created a solution to preserve the flower’s quality post-harvest. “Each Boveda is filled with an all-natural, saturated salt water solution. When added to a cannabis package or container, it immediately goes to work to maintain or establish a relative humidity appropriate for cannabis,” Claire explains. “It will not only put moisture into the packaging environment to achieve equilibrium, but it will also absorb moisture from the environment if the product is a little too wet. When it releases moisture, it lets out purified water vapor, which forms a monolayer of purified water over the trichomes. This keeps the trichomes healthy and intact.”
The company offers its patented 2-way humidity control packs in 58% as well as 62% RH. “For EU GMP-certified growers that are mandated by a 10% moisture content specification, the 58% RH version is a conceivable solution. For flower dried below 10% moisture content, 58% RH Boveda will establish a safe water activity level while keeping your product in compliance,” Claire explains.
In fact, the medical market is where Boveda receives a lot of interest from. “It’s important that medical patients receive safe, high-quality products. To avoid microbial growth and provide a positive experience, it is imperative that cannabis flower is packaged and stored between .55-.65 aW as prescribed by ASTM International, the United States Pharmacopeia, and others,” she says. “Seasonality and environmental conditions play a critical role in the overall quality of flower, and primary packaging alone does not adequately protect cannabis medicine.”
Overall, with cannabis operators’ margins being lower, quality is of the utmost importance. “You’re risking your product or even your brand if you’re just going with the status quo. Consumers want quality and consistency. They want a product that they can trust, one that will provide a positive, reliable, and safe experience. Boveda helps growers and brands achieve that consistency,” Claire says. “We have to start thinking about cannabis quality assurance over the scope of the entire supply chain: from selecting genetics through post-harvest to the end-consumer experience.”
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