USDA Agency And Company Partner To Explore Personal Care Products From Hemp

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Expanding the market for hemp seed oil is the goal of a new cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) involving Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and the Midwest Bioprocessing Center (MBC), a Peoria, Illinois-based firm specializing in organic chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

At the heart of the 24-month agreement is a patented process that a team of chemists with the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria developed, called “bio-catalysis.” In short, it involves using enzymes and heat rather than harsh chemicals and solvents to catalyze reactions that bind natural antioxidants like ferulic acid to lipids in soybean and other vegetable oils.

In prior research, the team used the process to create a class of compounds called feruloyl soy glycerides (FSGs) from soybean oil. These were subsequently licensed and commercialized for use as ingredients in skin- and personal-care products because of the ultraviolet (UV) absorbance and antioxidant properties that they offered.

Now, under the cooperative agreement with MBC, the team will explore creating similar ferulic-acid-based ingredients from bio-catalyzed hemp seed oil, potentially broadening the market for this commodity from an estimated 90,000 U.S. acres of industrial hemp, a type of Cannabis sativa that was legalized under the Farm Bill of 2018.

Hemp seed oil today is popularly used in cannabidiol-containing products for perceived health benefits. However, like soy or corn oil, hemp oil also contains a variety of nutrients, fatty acids (including omega-3 fatty acids) and bioactive compounds that can be transformed into specialty chemicals offering useful new properties.

Toward that end, the ARS-MBC team will focus on bio-catalyzing hemp oil to make “cosmeceuticals”—skin-care ingredients that perform specific functions, like protecting skin from UV light, retaining moisture, or stabilizing other active ingredients used in skin-care formulations.

“Collaborating with industry partners like MBC, which has expertise in enzymology and the infrastructure for scale-up, is critical to exploring expanded uses for our original technology,” said Compton, with the ARS center’s Renewable Technologies Research Unit in Peoria.

The research unit is one of seven comprising the NCAUR that collectively specialize in researching value-added uses for agricultural commodities as well as the byproducts of their manufacture into other processed goods.

The NCAUR has also played a lead role in devising sustainable approaches to processing these commodities with an eye towards expanding economic opportunities for growers of both established crops like corn, wheat and soybean, as well as emerging ones, like cuphea and industrial hemp.

In addition to opening the door to the cosmetics and personal care markets, NCAUR scientists are researching ways to better process hemp into fuels, lubricants and adhesives, as well as functional food ingredients and fiber products.


The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $17 of economic impact.

Cresco Labs Names Former Molson Coors Marketing Executive Greg Butler Chief Commercial Office

ILLINOIS: Cresco Labs, one of the largest vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operators in the United States, today announced a high-profile leadership hire to support its steadfast commitment to building the most important cannabis company in the U.S. Greg Butler joins Cresco Labs as its first Chief Commercial Officer. Greg brings to Cresco Labs a strong background in driving brand growth for top-tier CPG companies including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Molson Coors, wellness retail execution for Walgreens, and business growth and capital management strategic advising for leading private equity portfolio companies.

In this newly created position, Greg is responsible for demand and commercial strategic planning, bolstering Cresco Labs’ sales and marketing teams with top talent, leading the launch of all new products and innovation, brand M&A and integration, and driving enterprise strategies to deliver on the company’s vision to be the most important cannabis company in the U.S. among patients, customers, consumers and industry stakeholders.

“One of the key components of our success is the ability to strategically curate a leadership team with both institutional expertise and the highest caliber of subject matter experts across different industries—from retail to healthcare to beer to CPG,” said Charles Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs. “Greg has a remarkable general management pedigree and an impeccable reputation from his work driving growth for the world’s most iconic brands. Cannabis is an industry where his background in patient marketing, wellness retail, corporate planning and traditional CPG brand building are all necessary to deliver growth, and I couldn’t be more pleased to add these capabilities to our arsenal for driving long-term value. Greg’s addition strengthens an already accomplished team that’s well positioned to usher in the next generation of normalized and professionalized cannabis.”

After a year serving as Operating Partner at MNML Ventures, an affiliate of Cresco Labs, Greg has stepped into a full-time CCO role to continue to execute the long-term growth plan that has already delivered significant results. He led the creation of a pioneering occasion-based portfolio strategy, relaunched seven cannabis brands with new brand positionings, identities and packaging design, oversaw the creation of a multi-year innovation pipeline, and drove the concepting and launch of the national Sunnyside* retail brand. He also helped reshape Cresco Labs’ robust marketing, retail operations and sales teams that are made up of notable hires from Apple, Starbucks, PepsiCo and Red Bull.

“The results of Greg’s leadership speak for themselves,” says Tom Manning, Chairman of the Cresco Labs Board of Directors. “He oversaw the Miller portfolio and developed a commercial strategy for the billion-dollar Miller Lite brand, delivering 13 quarters of sustained growth after years of declining sales. He also has launched innovation consumer campaigns for global brands that drove share growth and has won a wide range of awards from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to the Effie Awards.”

Greg graduated from Queen’s University and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

“Throughout my career, I’m most energized by the opportunity to support the entrepreneurism of small companies in hyper-growth mode with the discipline and proven strategies of large CPG brands. After my first conversation with Charlie about his vision for Cresco Labs, I knew the opportunity to help navigate its strategic growth was the perfect fit,” said Butler. “Cresco Labs is reimagining the way consumers and patients look at the cannabis industry, and I’m excited to be part of its extraordinary mission and enhance the impact the company has already made.

Sproutly Taps New President From Anheuser-Busch InBev And Kimberley-Clark

CANADA: Sproutly Canada has tapped senior marketer Bryan Semkuley as President of Sproutly to accelerate the Company’s strategic objectives of becoming a leading cannabis formulations company focused on beverages.

“We are pleased that Mr. Semkuley has chosen to join the leadership team of Sproutly as President,” said Keith Dolo, CEO and Chairman of Sproutly.  “Bryan brings significant experience in branding, marketing, sales, and most importantly global product innovation and expertise from recognized multinational consumer packaged goods and beverage companies.  Our ability to continue executing on our business objectives, defining our competitive advantages, and attracting top talent to our management team and board of directors further validates our commitment to becoming a leading cannabis company with a clear focus on the beverage category,” he concluded.

Sproutly CanadaBryan Semkuley is a seasoned executive with over 30+ years leading global innovation and marketing teams for Fortune 200 companies including Kimberly-Clark, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Labatt. Mr. Semkuley will focus on the execution of the Company’s strategic objectives, development of its operational plan, and will work diligently to tie in the different vertical divisions of sales, marketing, product innovation, operations, and branding to deliver top-line growth.

Mr. Semkuley has extensive experience and a proven established track record of building new and existing brands and businesses through new product development, channel relationships and commercial innovation.  Prior to joining Sproutly, Mr. Semkuley was Vice President, Global Innovation/Industrial Sector at Kimberly-Clark, a US$19B NYSE-listed American multinational consumer packaged goods company focused on personal care products.  Before joining Kimberly-Clark, Mr. Semkuley spent over 25 years at Anheuser-Busch InBev, a US$130B NYSE-listed beverage company, and Labatt as Vice President Global Innovation, Vice President Global Brand Marketing, and Vice President Marketing, amongst other roles.

“Bryan’s experience leading R&D, marketing and product innovation teams of more than 70 plus key staff, specifically focused on new product development, new global revenue streams, and creating brands that win, will provide value through Sproutly’s continual advancement to become a leader in cannabis beverages and formulations,” said Keith Dolo.

Mr. Semkuley commented, “I look forward to joining the Sproutly team and building the business during a very exciting time for the industry. Building new brands and businesses has been a passion of mine. I look forward to future success of Sproutly, especially with our exciting technologies.”

The appointment is subject to customary approvals of the Canadian Securities Exchange.