Floraplex CEO Alec Riffle Talks Terpene Blends, Brewing, and More
While terpenes have been a subject of conversation in cannabis circles for some time, these aromatic molecules have recently been garnering mainstream attention. With consumers starting to better understand terpenes, companies are working to incorporate them into a growing variety of products, cannabis related and otherwise.
That’s where Floraplex Terpenes comes in, providing customers around the world with quality terpene isolates, as well as terpene blends designed to replicate the aromas and flavors of popular cannabis strains. We sat down with Floraplex CEO Alec Riffle to discuss how his team develops their flavorful terpene blends, what sort of trends they are seeing in the industry, and what the future holds.
Talk a little about how your team develops strain profiles and recreates them.
Our strain profiles are developed without using any ingredients derived from Cannabis sativa L. Instead, we work with non-cannabis botanically derived terpene isolates, essential oils, and flavorings to recreate a strain’s terpene profile from scratch.
We start off with archival research, looking for as many publicly available gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) lab reports of a cannabis strain’s terpene profiles as possible. We rely on high quality GC-MS chromatograms from reputable labs to ensure we are using valid datasets.
Once we’ve discarded outlier data, we aggregate and average the terpene concentrations to establish a baseline terpene profile for a strain. We then utilize computer-aided research to dive deep into what makes a terpene profile special and identifying the terpenes that are most likely to impact the flavor and aroma of that strain.
And what happens once you’ve got that data?
Well, then the fun starts! Our lab team mixes up many slightly different formulations of the same strain profile and runs sensory panels and analytical tests on each one. Once a favorite formulation is identified, we run shelf-life and color stability testing and also send it out to third-party independent labs for a full terpene profile analysis, as well as California state compliance testing for residual solvents, pesticides, and heavy metals. Finally, we send out samples to beta testers so we can get unbiased reviews from some of our best customers. Assuming they love the new product, the sales and marketing teams get ready to release our new formulation to the world.
And then you’re on to new projects?
Well, we’re always working on multiple projects, but even once we have a formulation that we are satisfied with, we keep testing both in-house and through third-party labs to ensure we’re continuing to produce the best product we can provide to our customers. These aren’t required tests, but we feel that continuous quality assurance not only protects our customers, but also provides further legitimacy to the industry. In fact, Floraplex is the first terpene company to offer 100% compliant terpene blends that meet California’s strict industry quality control regulations.
Floraplex is devoted to transparency in testing, which is why we make all of our test results available online. Consumers can view lab results of our third-party testing for residual solvents and pesticides, as well as heavy metals. We also have our blends tested for terpene content, so that people understand exactly what’s in every bottle.
Why derive terpenes from non-cannabis sources?
Well first off, we haven’t written off cannabis derived terpenes entirely. In the future it is possible we may source some of our ingredients from cannabis. For now, there are a few reasons we only work with terpenes derived from other plant sources.
The first consideration is that the legality of cannabis terpenes, especially at the federal and international levels, is questionable at best. And that leads us to the second consideration: supply. There is a lack of high-quality essential oils and isolated terpene derived from cannabis, and we have found that suppliers are either prone to bottlenecks or are prohibitively expensive.
But the main reason is that from a chemical standpoint, terpene isolates from cannabis and non-cannabis botanical sources are identical. Because we are founded on science and chemistry, we prefer to custom design our strain blends using a myriad of isolated terpenes and test each batch to ensure it meets our quality control standards, rather than relying on what is available from cannabis terpene suppliers from week to week. That’s important because it lets our customers plan weeks and months in advance because they know our batches will always meet and exceed their expectations.
Speaking of customers, what products are you seeing Floraplex terpenes wind up in today?
We have customers from a very diverse field of industries including breweries, distilleries, beverage companies, candle makers, and cannabis oil and distillate companies.
What terpenes are people looking to buy right now?
We’re seeing a lot of interest in strains blends that lean towards sweet profiles with a lot of flavor. For example, Gelato is as popular with our customers as it is on dispensary shelves. We also see a lot of requests for berry and fruit flavors, as well as “dank” flavors that are particularly tough to recreate.
Where do you see room to grow or expand?
Breweries are a growing market segment for us. Calls are coming in nearly every day from brewers and breweries who want to use our products. In fact, we’ve gotten so many requests for infusing terpenes into beer we recently put together a white paper titled Brewing with Terpenes to share with that community. The intense interest has also driven our R&D team’s current work on a new product range of water-soluble terpenes for breweries, beverage makers, and home users that we are really excited about!
Sounds pretty cool. Anything else we can expect to see coming from Floraplex in the near future?
Currently our top priority is developing new flavors and strain blends to provide our customers interesting, exciting, and delicious cannabis-inspired flavors. Namely, we plan to release our game changing Floraplex Amped Up line in the summer of 2019! This new line is in response to a growing portion of our customer base requesting more flavorful, fruit-forward terpene blends like Grape, Kiwi, and Fruit Punch, as well as popular food-inspired terpene blends like cereals, pastries, and desserts.