Fermented Cannabinoids: A Breakthrough for Mother Nature
The future of mass-production of specific cannabinoids lies in biotech and lab-grown products and companies like CREO are leading the way in what promises to be a large segment of the cannabis industry.
Not all cannabinoids need to be grown outdoors or in a greenhouse under fancy lights.
After years of R&D and millions of dollars being pumped into biotechnology, fermented cannabinoids are moving into the marketplace.
“We are living in the century of biology,” says Roy Lipski, co-founder and CEO of San Diego-based biotech firm, CREO. The company, founded in 2016, produces rare and novel cannabinoids using the age-old natural process of fermentation.
Until now, it’s been difficult for product developers to access commercial quantities of high-quality cannabinoids like cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN). While traditional cannabinoid extraction processes are viable for large batches of the plant’s more abundant THC and CBD cannabinoids, it’s not feasible for the hundreds of others.
By now, most consumers are familiar with the many medicinal (and recreational) uses for CBD and THC. However, many more cannabinoids exist and scientists are just understanding their distinct effects and interactions.
“The reason CBGs and CBDs are catching on is because they really work,” says Lipski. “Science needs to catch up.”
All the Cannabinoids Without the Carbon Footprint
Biotech complements traditional extraction methods and solves a very important problem: carbon footprint.
A million square-foot greenhouse growing cannabis plants may yield 16 metric tons of cannabinoids per year, for example, while a fermentation facility of the same footprint could generate roughly 1,000 metric tons over the same period. Lab-grown cannabinoids require less water, energy, and land than their plant-grown counterparts.
“I believe this is one of the key weapons we have today to address the environmental issues we are facing,” Lipski says.
According to a recent report on the biotech revolution by financial services firm Raymond James, the global market for fermented cannabinoids is estimated to grow from $10 billion in 2025 to $115 billion by 2040. But the likelihood of fermented cannabinoids ever replacing plant-grown cannabinoids is small.
- Cannabinoid Biosynthesis: Growing Cannabinoids Without the Plant
- The Newest Cannabinoids: THCP and CBDP
- Synthetic Cannabinoids: What You Need to Know
The Rise of a Disruptor
Biotech companies like CREO don’t have plans to shake up the cannabis industry. Fermentation is best suited for single cannabinoid mixes with more specific physiological effects.
Instead, they serve a particular market segment (mainly large CPG) whose scale, regulatory strategy, and requirements around purity, consistency, and repeatability favor fermentation.
Fermentation complements the cannabis industry as it allows consumers to use cannabinoid products in countries and states where the plant is still illegal.
However, it will disrupt other industries.
Sharing her thoughts on CBG in 2021, actress Jaime King called the cannabinoid “age defying.”
The beauty industry has long sought natural additives with anti-aging effects and CBG — a single powerful natural ingredient that does the work of most other traditional cosmetic ingredients — seems to be a rising star. Even more opportunities for fermented cannabinoids exist in the food, beverage, and wellness industries.
Written by Karen Lloyd | Freelance Writer, Digital Marketing Expert
Karen Lloyd is a freelance writer, digital marketing expert and hippy at heart in the city with a small studio, spacious deck and enormous passion for all things cannabis, urban gardening and food equity in Toronto.