The stars align rarely in business outside of a precious few HBR case studies or idealized Hollywood storylines. Reality is rarely so simple. Blue waters are often murky. But I’ve learned over decades of building and transforming businesses that these once-in-a-lifetime moments do exist, if you know where to look and you’re ready to take action.
Today Arcadia Biosciences announced a new crop in our portfolio: cannabis.
Surprising? For us, it’s a natural fit. Consistent with Arcadia’s focus as a consumer-driven agricultural technology company developing and commercializing high-value food ingredients, nutritional oils, and products that improve crop productivity, the recent federal legalization of hemp opened a door to begin innovating on a crop that hasn’t seen concerted breeding advancement in the United States for better part of a century.
The market is hungry for this innovation. The Hemp Business Journal estimates that the hemp CBD market totaled $190 million in 2018 – an astounding rate of growth for a category that didn’t exist five years ago. By 2022, the Brightfield Group, a cannabis and CBD market research firm, says sales are expected to reach $22 billion. Amid this boom of investment and enthusiasm are the classic challenges of scaling a supply chain that starts with agriculture: supply reliability, product quality, sustainable production practices, and increasingly identity preservation and traceability.
We find this opportunity so appealing when paired with our proven record of developing and commercializing crop advances that we’ve made the strategic decision to create a dedicated business unit – Arcadia Specialty Genomics – to lead the charge of genetic improvement in hemp within federal and state legal markets.
As president of Arcadia Specialty Genomics and continuing CFO of Arcadia Biosciences, my near-term focus is acquiring required licenses in key geographies to launch our research and development programs, for which we expect to begin operations in early 2019, and evaluating partnerships to extend our capabilities vertically as we establish Arcadia Specialty Genomics as a leading science-driven genetics innovator in cannabis.
Securing freedom to operate, closing key deals, and building our R&D pipeline we expect to be among our initial milestones. We intend to use our proprietary, advanced breeding platform, TILLING, and gene editing to quickly and effectively improve cannabis crop genetics. Keenly aware of the time horizon to bring even the fastest breeding traits to market in elite varieties, we also intend to supply cultivators with high-quality, disease free plants as a way to deliver initial sales.
I couldn’t be more thrilled with this direction for our company adding another strategic crop to our portfolio of products headlined by GoodWheat™ and including several others. I’m also humbled to take the helm of this new effort aimed at transforming an industry through science and innovation.
Matt Plavan, February 28, 2019