Global consolidation of the cannabis value chain is inevitable, says Cantor Fitzgerald Pablo Zuanic. However, the formation of transnational cannabis conglomerates that exploit global market opportunities faces multiple challenges such as maintaining consistent quality and competitive margins throughout the value chain, finding the best partnerships and market niches and the innovation of their products.
Only companies strategically positioned for the global legalization of cannabis will benefit from the first mover advantage. Understanding the market strategies of these companies can provide valuable insights for cannabis investors looking to gain smart exposure, diversify, and mitigate risk. Similarly for cannabis companies currently operating in state or national markets, finding the right partner can represent whether or not they expand their global footprint.
One question to ask is, which of these companies can connect cannabis growers and sellers around the world?
The one that stands out is the Alpen Group Inc.. Born in Switzerland at the foot of the Alps, the Alpen Group is a multi-country cannabis operator (MCO), with end-to-end cultivation, genetics, extraction and distribution operations in Switzerland, Germany, the United States and Canada.
The company is positioned to provide legal, diverse and accessible cannabis and CBD products, as regulations permit, country by country, across the globe. Alpen was born from the merger of three groups from the United States, Canada and Europe. These partners consisted of a combination of genetics, GACP cultivation, EUGMP post-harvest, manufacturing and extraction as well as a leading brand house. Then Alpen Group launched a strategic partnership with a Swiss pharmaceutical company Alpex Pharma.
“We consider ourselves an MCO, which is different from MSOs in the United States. We are a multi-country operator,” said Todd BorenCEO of Alpen in an exclusive interview with Benzinga.
Boren, who founded one of the first American cannabis funds, the MacArthur Fund and led one of the biggest releases of its time selling Form Factory at Assets in area, in the same way Pierre GlickCCO of Alpen, and an experienced consortium of cannabis specialists, is building a nodal business for the cannabis industry in the heart of Europe.
Cannabis made in Switzerland
“Switzerland is known for having the highest quality products in the world, the best pharmaceuticals in the world, a hub for distribution, not just in Europe, but really around the world,” Boren said. “Peter and I come from the US cannabis space with deep experience on the operational side… [and] many problems in the United States are answers that we found in Switzerland.”
The CEO explained that the main issues facing cannabis companies in the United States, such as the lack of interstate commerce and banking, are not significant challenges in Switzerland.
“Banking is a complete problem in the United States [where] forming a large conglomerate type company is totally impossible. In Switzerland, you can carry out banking transactions from one country to another. We are truly global with Latin America and Asia as a major component of what we do,” Boren said.
Peter Glik, COO of Alpen, praised US companies, but acknowledged the shortcomings of operating there.
“There are many large organizations [in the U.S.], great companies with great people. And Peter and I have seen the best and the worst. And we brought the congruence of that team to management,” Glik said.
Referring to European markets as “a high-speed train,” Glik explained that the Alpen team relies on lessons learned in the United States to navigate global cannabis markets and find beneficial business partnerships.
How to tap into the global cannabis supply chain
The Alpen Group covers all the bases. From finance to retail, Alpen has made strategic acquisitions that enable it to compete and operate efficiently across the supply chain.
“Alpen Group has a portfolio of brands that will launch in the first quarter of next year,” Boren said. “Alongside the brand portfolio, WeGrow, which previously grew GACP hemp flower, will now transition to a state-of-the-art, $25 million EUGMP THC facility that is in the final stages of construction.”
The new Swiss facility will handle the tissue culture and clones of cannabis as well as the cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms.
“Bio Zu Farm Genetics was a very strategic acquisition for us because it is a genetic library and tissue culture program. It’s a strategic acquisition because that’s how we were going to tap into the global supply chain. So we’ll micropropagate up to 10 million tissue culture clones a year, and then we’ll sell those clones to European markets as well as, you know, Latin America, Asia, and so on. “said Glik.
“Tissue culture, clones. It’s a proven concept here in the United States. This is an excellent way for American genetics to enter the European market. It’s a great way for us to study the supply chain and understand if the products will come from South Africa, will come from Portugal, will come from Latin America. There are many unknowns when it comes to global cannabis. Right. And so for us to have the ability to leverage those supply chain solutions through our tissue culture cloning program is a strategy and a supply chain solution that we strongly believe in,” added Glick.
At the gate of the giants
Alpen’s location is not arbitrary. “Switzerland was a very strategic decision for us because it is the pharmaceutical headquarters of the world. It is centrally located in the EU but is not part of the EU. It therefore has its own direct relations with the surrounding countries, which is very important for the ability to import and export. This is a major vertical within the Alpen Group,” explained Glik.
“Certainly Germany is a great opportunity and seems to be leading the way for regulation. We think we can be a huge support for this market,” Boren added.
“The scale and growth that will come from the recreational market there taps into our tissue culture program and our genetic library. [In terms of] the scalability of the genetics, we have no issues, no concerns, and we expect to operate over 10,000 kg of annual production through our tissue culture program,” Glik continued and explained that beyond of scale and consistency of quality, the company is working to shape future markets by diversifying its offerings.
“When you think of today’s pharmaceutical markets, most of them are flower markets. Flower is the most inconsistent way to consume cannabis. But who will be a pioneer in creating the rules and regulations for what I call cannabis products 2.0? Who will be the leader to define what these products will be? Glik asked and emphasized that Alpen aims to be the leader in formulating 2.0 products for the European market.
“The relationship with Latin America is mainly import-export to European markets, as it is a low-cost cannabis producer. We are looking at many groups that see Switzerland as the main route to the EU,” Glik said. “We will work with EU GMP certified growers from Latin America and act as an EU GMP grower ourselves.”
Photo by Ralf Ruppert on Pixabay.
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