Consumers across the U.S. are searching for delicious and effective cannabis/hemp beverages and the market size for infused beverages is set to grow exponentially through 2027. This projection has attracted many manufacturers but creating a palatable beverage remains a unique challenge with a steep learning curve. Farmington Research founders Breck Speed and Cameron Meshell came to the cannabis space with a lot of experience in the traditional beverage industry — now, the duo uses insights gleaned from their previous careers to help cannabis beverage manufacturers fine-tune their products’ taste, solubility, bottling, and aroma.
“The beverage segment of the cannabis market, which includes RTD beverages and powders, is expected to be one of the top market segments,” Chief Operating Officer Breck Speed told Ganjapreneur. “Consumers are looking for healthier alternatives to alcohol capable of delivering similar relaxation effects, and beverages are a trusted format and have dependable dosages.”
Because of their expertise in beverages, the pair found they were being frequently approached about making hemp- or THC-based drinks but they also identified common issues with the products that were already being marketed. The most prominent problem they identified was that it was hard to find an extract that was both suitable for the manufacturing process and that could retain a desirable end product. Ultimately, Speed and Meshell set out to make that extract themselves. This decision brought them down a two-year path of research and development.
Many manufacturing companies at the time were still trying to perfect the solubility of their products so, after failing to get their desired results with what was available at the time, Meshell learned how to weld in order to build specialized manufacturing equipment. Utilizing their new in-house technology, Meshell was able to deliver a lightly colored and water-soluble full-plant extract.
Now that they had their product, the pair next started working on a hemp extract business, eventually relocating from Los Angeles to Shreveport, Louisiana, where the University of Louisiana offers an entrepreneurial incubator through the hospital biomedical research foundation, leasing out labs to various companies. Through this opportunity, the team worked to perfect their proprietary technology and product.
Farmington’s pilot extract was made using hemp but the proprietary process is just as effective with full cannabinoid extracts. In fact, the company is currently working with several THC-focused clients to shape and perfect their technology for that side of the industry.
The company’s initially tiny team of two has grown to three since their founding, but their focus remains on adding value to the cannabis beverage market. Because of the stability, clarity, lack of aroma, and neutral flavor of their product, Farmington Research is confident their extract is so far unmatched in the industry. Additionally, after noticing the industry’s general lack of experience when it came to infused beverages, Speed and Meshell have made it a point to work directly with their clients, which means much of their time is spent helping others problem-solve. Many Farmington clients, for example, need help maintaining flavor profiles, which can be exceptionally challenging for novice beverage manufacturers.
“Working as a team with a brand owner is essential,” Speed said. “We often spend more time mentoring new players in the beverage world than we do selling them cannabis extract.”
The founders said they even considered launching a separate consulting service but instead have decided to offer their insights as an all-inclusive Farmington package. Instead of gatekeeping their beverage aptitude, Meshell and Speed want to bring even more manufacturers into their world of making palatable and effective hemp/cannabis-infused drinks.
While the beverage market is keeping the team busy, Speed and Meshell have also been considering additional applications for their extract — for example, because liquids are so heavy, shipping costs are consistently a major issue for the cannabis beverage market. Farmington is working with clients to solve this issue by formulating drops and powders that could be mailed separately and added to water after they reach the consumer. Hemp-infused powders and drops have already made great replacements for a ready-made can or bottle of infused liquids and the team has been playing with how to innovate the idea even further.
Meanwhile, lines between the many beverage markets continue to blur as beer brands craft non-alcoholic drink options and seltzers continue a slow but apparent takeover of the alcohol market. Speed said the blurring of these lines could be a perfect opportunity for hemp-infused drinks to gain traction with consumers and match the industry’s projected growth margins.
Despite their many innovations and forward-looking ideas, Speed and Meshell’s passion for solving problems has persisted. As they continue to grow and innovate, Farmington Research remains a solid choice for brands who are looking to expand into water-soluble hemp/cannabis extractions and the infused beverage market.