Bringing goods to market is almost never a simple process — especially when you’re talking about hemp.
Understanding a few of the quirks and bottlenecks involved in the hemp supply chain can save you a ton of grief in the long run.
Every product you see sold at your local supermarket relies on a supply line to get there. From a pack of hotdogs to a case of beer, there are many stages of production to get goods from maker to market.
Hemp is no different.
It’s grown for a specific end-use — food, clothing, pill, ointment — and runs through all the same supply lines that a bottle of Coke would.
Planting, drying, testing, transporting, and manufacturing are a few of the more obvious parts of the hemp supply chain… And each is not without their own issues. But those are by no means the most important ones — the ones that can really trip you up.
Your energy should be focused on the pain points.
Two of the more critical links in the chain — tasks you should give early attention to in your growing year — are setting up processing and securing a buyer. Both can create massive bottlenecks if not done in a timely manner.
Ideally, you’ll want to be planning out those two chores as early as January.
You’re not alone if you think that’s a little soon to get your planning off the ground. But remember, proper planning prevents poor performance. It’s a classic case we see time and again, particularly in the shifting hemp industry.
In 2019, a lot of hemp growers got down to the hard work of farming before they ever gave a thought to processing and selling their goods.
That left many farmers in the lurch, sitting on unsold product.
While the work of processing and then selling your hemp physically occur much later in the year — post-harvest — plans for these tasks should be the first thing set in motion.. If possible, well before a seed ever hits the earth.
You’ll take a lot of pressure off yourself by nailing down processing and selling way ahead of planting. Then you can get down to the nitty-gritty of farming.
Because the hemp industry is still working out significant infrastructure kinks, it’s all about making sure you’ve got your ducks in a row. In this young market, which changes drastically from quarter to quarter, the early bird definitely gets the worm.
Consider it like fueling up your machinery for the day. Leaving that task to the last minute in the afternoon would strand you in the middle of your field on fumes.
Get way in front of critical bottlenecks with early planning.
Even before securing a processor or buyer, there are some key things to ponder. Out the gates in January, you should already be gaming out what your end product or products will eventually be.
Knowing what you’re farming for at the get-go — distillate, isolate, or CBD flower — is going to give you a huge leg up on the competition.
Not only will it inform you about what type of hemp you’ll grow, but it will also start to point you in the direction of the most likely buyers. Cater your hemp to their needs and your chances of selling will increase.
It’s also a very wise idea to consider growing hemp for a few different purposes. It’s a bad plan to show up with a truck full of biomass and hope to offload it all in one go. Hemp is not like corn. You don’t drop it off at a silo and collect a check.
You have to get buyers interested in your particular flavors of hemp.
Consider selling your product like a restaurant menu. Offer options. The more products you have on offer, the greater chance you’ll have of selling more goods.
Think about it — you never open a menu at Cracker Barrel and see just one item on the list. There’s always a whole range of options for you to choose from.
Buyers want choices.
No restaurant would ever be successful having just one or two items on the menu. Same with hemp. Offer them a few alternatives.
Distillate with CBD, CBN, or CBG. Smokable flower with attractive terpene profiles. Distillate Delta-8.
Along with farming for a variety of products, also make sure you’ve got backup plans in place.
Deals fall through all the time. It’s always good to also have a Plan B, C, and D waiting in the wings. Again, the hemp industry is in flux, moving on a quarterly basis.
You can succeed. You just have to move with it.
In the event of a curveball thrown at you, you want to move fast and avoid getting hammered.
Connecting with hemp collectives are one way to move in the right direction and avoid bottlenecks. They’re a great route to get in touch with verified businesses. These are folks who’ve been vetted by other farmers in the hemp network and have proven solid track records.
Those contacts will have better follow-through than most.
That said, always protect yourself by getting everything in writing.
Past years have seen too many farmers getting stung by putting down good faith deposits on a handshake. There are still a lot of questionable, predatory brokers and processors out there who don’t have the best intentions. They’ll promise you the moon and then disappear.
As soon as you agree on a deal, get those agreements signed and sealed.
The contract is king.
As the competition increases, we’re seeing farmers get creative in other ways to not get bogged down in supply line bottlenecks. They’re getting innovative about how to lure in buyers.
Farmers are marketing themselves as the best hemp in the region. They’re drawing buyers in with branding.
Create a brand and create demand.
Attract them and show how your plants and products stand head and shoulders above the rest. Creating a reliable brand is a fantastic way to get buyers on board and invested in your farm. To forge lasting relationships.
You’re the farmer who produces incredible terpenes. Your hemp is always guaranteed pesticide-free — and you’ve got testing reports to back it up. Your CBD, CBN, and CBG flower percentages are some of the best in the state.
Make your hemp irresistible to potential buyers by providing photos of your farm. Beautiful lines of cannabis glowing in the summer sun.
Market it and they will come.
You don’t need to be tripped up by bottlenecks in the hemp supply chain.
It’s a new industry and it’s got some hurdles. But if you look far enough ahead, you can avoid the majority of obstacles that stand in your way. And get down to the business of farming hemp.