Leading the CBD Movement
Steve Smith, co-founder and president of Pet Releaf, discusses how tight control over the entire manufacturing process enables the company to offer unsurpassed quality control and consistency in all of its products.
Tell us about the origin of Pet Releaf. When was it founded? What is the company’s primary focus? The seed for Pet Releaf was planted in 2011, when Alina and I were unable to find an all-natural, truly organic and effective option for our beloved family dog, Mattie, who was suffering from arthritic pain. Our vet, who was also a very close friend, was only able to prescribe pharmaceuticals that resulted in Mattie becoming completely mentally absent. We decided there had to be a better way. From there, Pet Releaf was born. We packed up our family in a one-way U-Haul and moved from Florida to Colorado to make that dream a reality!
Our No. 1 mission is, and always will be, to change what healthy means for pets. We want to make sure that pet parents who are going through a similar experience as we did with Mattie have better options that they can trust, are 100 percent safe and truly effective.
With all of the CBD and other hemp oil products flooding the market today, what makes Pet Releaf stand apart in the industry? The flood of companies releasing a CBD oil or adding CBD to anything possible because it’s the trendy new thing in the pet space can, unfortunately, expose pets to potentially harmful products. There are so many unscrupulous “bulk CBD” and private-label suppliers that a respected pet brand could unknowingly sell/be selling CBD products with dangerous chemicals and heavy metals.
What separates Pet Releaf from other CBD pet companies is our control over our entire manufacturing process—from seed to sale, from plant to pet. That starts with our USDA Certified Organic hemp, which is grown at our joint-venture hemp farms located in multiple locations in Colorado. We are the largest Certified USDA Organic hemp farm group in the U.S. We even took farming a step further by planting our own specialized strain of hemp, PR-33. We partner directly with our CO2 extraction experts, and we even bake our Edibites in our Pet Releaf kitchen. From the beginning, we wanted to ensure the highest quality CBD-infused products possible, and it quickly became clear that the only way to achieve that goal was to control absolutely everything. Our complete control means we’re able to offer our retail partners unmatched quality control and consistency in all our products.
Being the true pioneers and market leaders of the CBD movement in the pet industry also brings great responsibilities. We take great pride in being the go-to resource for the actual science-based education and knowledge in our industry.
Finally, we are honored to be the only CBD pet company on the board of directors of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the most influential hemp trade association in the industry. The U.S. Hemp Roundtable worked directly with Senator Mitch McConnell and his team to draft the 2018 Farm Bill, which was just passed by Congress in December. Our position with the U.S. Hemp Roundtable means we are on the forefront of the legalities surrounding CBD, which allows us to give our retail partners the utmost confidence in the compliance of our products and understanding of the regulations of CBD-infused pet products.
What are some of the major misconceptions within the industry, and among consumers, about CBD products? How can these misconceptions be cleared up? The biggest misconception is that all CBD pet products are equal. This is just simply not true; and because the category isn’t regulated, a lot of companies are taking advantage of the lack of customer knowledge. Every part of the farming and production process matters for the end product to be both safe and effective.
We urge every pet retailer to ask what we have called “The 5 questions” before carrying a CBD brand:
1. Where is their hemp grown, and can they prove it? Pet Releaf does farm tours in the summer of our personal fields, which can also be viewed on our website.
2. If claiming organic, do they have necessary certifications? It is a federal offense to claim organic hemp or organic farming methods unless you have a third-party USDA certification.
3. What extraction method are they using, and do they have solvent testings to prove no residual chemicals are within their final product?
4. Are they using CBD isolate? This one is harder to detect but of huge importance, since 90 percent of isolate is flooding in from China.
5. How much CBD is in the product and do they have consistent and constant third-party testings to verify this amount? Also, make sure it is truly third-party and a state-registered lab doing the testing.
Last month, Pet Business honored Pet Releaf’s Liposome Hemp Oils as one of the top pet products of 2018. What makes this product different than other CBD hemp oil products out there? We were so thrilled that Pet Business awarded Pet Releaf Professional Liposomes this honor. What makes this product different than any other offering on the market is the innovative technology and ingredient quality. Our Pet Releaf Professional Liposomes use a patent-pending technology that allows our organic full spectrum hemp extract to be administered directly on your pet’s food without losing any efficacy. Beyond convenience of administration, it’s also three to five times more bioavailable than our standard line of hemp extracts when administered on food.
Liposomes are essentially a sacrificial layer of beneficial fats that surround the cannabinoids as they move through the stomach into the GI tract. This allows the cannabinoids to get to the GI tract and taken directly into the blood stream.
Standard CBD oils need to be administered sublingually to achieve maximum efficacy which often makes it difficult for pet parents. Sublingual is still the best method if the dog or cat will allow it. Mixing standard oils with food decreases efficacy, due to the interaction with gastric acids in the stomach.
Liposomes are proven to be safe and highly effective—and fully approved by the FDA.
Another important point is that we mixed our Liposome Hemp Oil with sustainably-sourced Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil. We selected Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil because our organic full spectrum hemp extract contains omegas-3, -6 and -9, paired with the EPA and DHA omega-3s found in salmon oil, the combination is giving your pet the full profile of necessary omegas.
What are some of Pet Releaf’s other popular products? What are the key features of these products? At Pet Releaf, our priority is introducing products that meet the needs of every single pet. Each product line offers a different use depending on a pet’s needs.
• Our Edibites are filled with superfood ingredients and are considered the ultimate daily supplement for generally healthy dogs.
• Our highly rated Hemp Oils and Capsules are intended for animals with more severe health issues, like situational anxiety, hip and joint pain or inflammation-caused ailments.
• Our amazing 2017 award-winning Canna Care has shown phenomenal results for dogs with skin irritations and inflammation.
The level of detail and dedication that our team puts into R&D, product knowledge and overall understanding of our pets’ needs is what has helped place us as the market leaders in this category.
Does Pet Releaf have any new products in the development pipeline? Can you tell us anything about these impending introductions? We are extremely excited about the recent launch of our Grain-Free Soft Chew Edibites. Pet Releaf retailers and pet parents alike have been anxiously awaiting this product, and I promise you the wait has been worth it! Just like our classic crunchy Edibites, these have superfood ingredients that will boost your pet’s immune system and keep them wanting more. Our executive chef continues to amaze us with the superfood combination of ingredients that he has added to these new chews.
We are expanding Pet Releaf Professional division and launching an entire new division of products that cater to even more pet companions. In 2019, we will also be introducing some game-changing collaborations that have never been seen before in the pet industry.
What does the future hold for the CBD category? What does the future hold for Pet Releaf? The CBD category continues to expand rapidly because the barriers to entry are currently very low compared to most of the other categories within the pet industry. With the recent passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, we will see more strict regulations put in place for all hemp products. As the company that has truly set the standard for product quality and transparency in the pet CBD space, Pet Releaf welcomes tighter industry wide standards and regulations.
Pet Releaf could not be more excited about the future. We are continuing to expand our hemp product lines and will strategically move into other segments of the pet industry. Our international expansion will also significantly increase in 2019, beginning with our launch in Japan in January of 2019. PB