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May 14, 2020

CBD Industry Grows with the Help of Bulk Bag Handling Equipment

Scientist examines hemp plants in a factory

Retail sales of CBD products clocked in at over $1 billion in 2019.

That’s a 133% increase over 2018, and revenues are projected to reach $10 billion by 2024

More recently, online CBD sales have risen as people practice social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many consumers have turned to CBD products to help relieve symptoms of anxiety related to the virus.

Growing demand for non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) comes after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp as an agricultural commodity. Hemp is now eligible for federal crop insurance, and plants must contain no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana. 

According to a survey from the organization Vote Hemp, over 511,000 acres were licensed for growing hemp in 2019. The survey recorded a 476% increase in state licenses to grow hemp and a 483% surge in processing licenses. 

CBD oil is mainly harvested from the flowering part of the hemp plant. It generates higher profits per acre than other hemp products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CBD products include sub-lingual tinctures applied under the tongue, topicals which are applied to the skin, edibles and vape concentrates. 

The Brightfield Group predicts that the total U.S. market for hemp-derived CBD will reach $23.7 billion by 2023. 

“Now that we have lifted federal prohibition on hemp farming,” says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra, “it’s time to build the infrastructure and expand hemp cultivation and the market for hemp products across the country so that all can reap the benefits of this versatile and sustainable crop.”

Bulk bags, also called flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs), help farmers and processors deliver a quality product from field to shelf. Custom bulk bag handling systems are also essential for meeting this need throughout the supply chain.

Hemp Farmers

Hemp grows best in warm weather regions with organic-rich soil. To ensure a quality product, growers must prioritize good irrigation, using the right equipment and harvesting at the right time.  

CBD buds must also be correctly packaged, stored and processed after harvest. Proper storage means a longer shelf life and reduces the risk of mold and contamination of hemp and hemp-derived products. 

FIBCs facilitate the efficient storage and transportation of hemp flowers, clippings and plant stalks, along with waste disposal. A heavy-duty bulk bag filler enables the FIBC to be filled all the way to volume.

FormPak BagFlo 500-HT Unloader with FlexFlow Model Screw Conveyor

Caption: BagPak 1100-DTS Bulk Bag Filler on Platform Scale

CBD Processing & Extraction

CBD extraction facilities and equipment must be designed to minimize fire hazards and comply with food safety regulations. Processors must also meet stringent occupational safety and health requirements to reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries or illness. 

When combined with custom handling equipment, FIBCs offer many ergonomic advantages over 50-pound bags, small boxes or drums. They reduce the risk of back and joint injuries caused by repetitive lifting. They expand the number of personnel who can perform the jobs of packaging, moving, storing and emptying product from the container. A bulk bag unloader facilitates the safe discharge of FIBC contents, while a flexible screw conveyor is used to convey dry bulk ingredients.

BagPak 1100 DTS duffle top bulk bag filler on platform scale

Caption: BagFlo 500-HT Bulk Bag Unloader with FlexFlo Model Screw Conveyor

Bulk bags also help to keep hemp-derived products fresh and free of contaminants. Innovative nitrogen systems and polyethylene liners reduce decomposition. Breathable, vented bags are useful for preventing the appearance of mold. These features enable processors to preserve cannabinoids to ensure the desired potency of the product. 

Are you a CBD grower or processor looking for a safe and efficient way to package, store and transport your product? Get in touch with us at FormPak to learn more about our industry-leading bulk bag handling systems.