ECS Botanics Holdings (ASX: ECS) has announced a new partnership with Tasmanian natural products business Essential Oils of Tasmania (EOT) to fast-track development and capitalise on commercial opportunities in the hemp and medicinal cannabis market.
A newly signed non-binding collaboration agreement sets out a strategic framework for the two companies to pursue research and opportunities in the hemp seed oil, cannabinoid and terpene sectors.
It will also see the pair engage in research and development programs to develop finished products that incorporate Tasmanian hemp and essential oils.
ECS managing director Alex Keach said the two companies have “complementary skill sets that can be mutually beneficial to de-risk and fast-track industry development”.
“We are in the midst of a huge consumer shift toward using botanical extracts, including cannabis, for nutrition, medicine, supplements, cosmetics, flavouring, sanitiser and cleaning applications and we are seeing strong growth in both the cannabis extract market as well as essential oils, which is an US$8 billion market,” he said.
“Cannabis is no longer viewed as a ‘one trick pony’, containing an abundance and array of cannabinoids, essential oils, terpenes and flavonoids,” Mr Keach added.
COVID-19’s impact on hygiene practices
A major factor in managing the spread of COVID-19 has been the increased hygiene and cleaning practices in homes, workplaces and gathering areas.
“Essential oils as well as hemp seed oil are known for their strong anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties,” Mr Keach said.
“We expect to see greater emphasis on the use of plant extracts in cleaning products to take advantage of these properties, as well as complementing hand sanitisers and hygiene products in order to provide a softer and less drying impact on the skin,” he added.
Essential oil industry growth
According to Grandview Research, growth in the essential oil industry is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6% from 2019 to 2025, while the cannabis extract market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.6% from 2020 and 2027.
ECS said Tasmania is expected to be a “strong participant” in the global essential oils industry as its geographical location, “clean green” image and GMO-free status provide a strategic advantage.
The company also believes EOT’s fractionation, carbon dioxide extraction and distillation equipment is highly complementary to ECS’ industrial hemp and medicinal plans and outlook.
“The collaboration agreement strengthens the ability to enhance vertical integration, increase future production capacity and access specialist extractive equipment and years of experience,” it stated.
“We really do feel our agronomy, extraction and chemical analysis expertise is highly complementary to the development of a cannabis industry in Tasmania and we look forward to working with ECS as they grow their business into the future,” EOT chief executive officer Simon Wells said.
Today’s news follows recent announcements by ECS that it has been granted an industrial hemp special research licence at its own Tasmanian farm, and its first major hemp harvest has commenced with other contract growers in the state.
The company also announced in March that its hemp seed oil is now available for sale in Woolworths stores across Australia.