I was surprised by the last question asked from the audience when I participated as a panelist at the THRIVE AgTech conference earlier this month:
“What do you think is the future of cannabis in California agriculture?”
I was even more surprised when the moderator turned to me and said, “Karen, why don’t you take that question, as I would consider cannabis a specialty crop, wouldn’t you?”
I smiled and jokingly said we could sell it in 1-ounce packages, like our other specialty items.
But seriously, I then mentioned my presentation at the food trend conference, Bitten LA back in October, where Jeff the Cannabis Chef did an entire presentation about his career cooking with cannabis. After all, cannabis edibles are very popular these days.
Since then, I’ve done a little research. And in fact, I have had more than one industry person tell me it’s no secret that many hot house growers in California are looking at the financial returns on growing cannabis. The Orange County Register estimated the value of California’s marijuana crop in 2015 to be the number one leading agriculture commodity at $23.3 billion. Just for comparison, coming in second on that list is milk at $6.28 billion and almonds at about $5 billion.
With all of the buzz, pardon the pun, around the California cannabis industry, there are also some concerns that directly impact the produce industry. Would fruit and vegetable growers switch out edible crops to grow cannabis? Many experts don’t seem too concerned about the switch as there are more fees, regulations, and risks of property forfeiture that come with growing commercial cannabis. At least, for now.
And just last Friday, the International Cannabis Business Conference was held in San Francisco. So I imagine we are going to see a lot of information in the news in coming weeks.
So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the latest edition of the newsletter Israel21C arrived with the following headline:
“5 reasons Israel is dominating the cannabis industry”
The article highlights that Israel is more than 10 years ahead of other countries in terms of cannabis innovation. Whether it is in growing, processing, medical treatment, or venture funds (iCAN is an Israel-cannabis venture fund), a lot is going on in Israel.
But back to the question I was asked. In case you’re wondering, I don’t think you will see Frieda’s adding cannabis to our product lineup anytime soon.