Hemp food company and agribusiness ECS Botanics (ASX: ECS) has confirmed that two of its hemp-infused soups will soon be stocked at hundreds of Woolworths stores across Australia.
The news comes two months after the company announced it had secured an exclusive distribution deal for its hemp seed oil with Australia’s leading supermarket chain courtesy of its distribution partner Just Foods.
Just Foods distributes a range of products within the health, pharmacy, hardware and grocery channels throughout Australia with hemp products now also finding their way onto the conveyor belt towards mass-market adoption.
With Just Foods handling distribution, ECS Botanics cultivates, grows and processes hemp for the wholesale market and its own retail food brand.
The company operates from Tasmania and plans to expand into overseas markets. As things stand, ECS Botanics holds import and export licences with the Office of Drug Control (ODC) as well as having been granted licences for the cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis.
ECS Botanics’ Mexican spiced bean and Indian masala lentil soups both contain hemp – a strain of the cannabis sativa plant species that comprises an array of positive health and nutritional benefits.
The reintroduction of hemp back into society in several countries over the past few years including Australia, the US, UK and Europe has occurred due to softening legislation towards its use with health-conscious consumers adamant that hemp-based products are effective and something they’re willing to switch to as an alternative to existing non-hemp-based foods.
One of the key messages being put across to consumers by companies such as ECS Botanics, as well as others active in the cannabis/hemp industries, are the significant differences between hemp and marijuana.
Marijuana typically contains high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a chemical that causes profound psychoactive and physical effects whereas its sibling hemp, refers to edible plant seeds and contains trace amounts of THC that fall within regulatory safety guidelines.
With consumer demand for hemp products growing steadily within the food, consumables, cosmetics and beverages markets, ECS Botanics wants to take advantage of changing consumer preferences and launch its next range of hemp foods in order to gain early market advantage and be one of the first companies to introduce hemp to the general public in Australia.
The two soup products to be stocked by Woolworths are being aimed at people seeking a convenient, tasty and healthy meal option.
ECS Botanics said the products consist of high quality and majority plant-based ingredients, developed by an experienced team of chefs and nutritionists.
“Our Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) soups are unique in the market place and this latest deal is testament to the products branding and positioning towards a growing retail segment,” said Alex Keach, managing director of ECS Botanics.
“While the success we’ve achieved in the short term is pleasing, most importantly we are setting the foundation and capability to leverage the first-mover opportunity in an exciting, high growth and evolving industry,” he added.