Insights & News

Insights & News

May 14, 2019

Leading KeyLeaf in a New Direction: An interview with KeyLeaf President and CEO Dale Kelly

On February 12, 2019, ingredient maker POS Bio Sciences announced it was pivoting away from applied contract R&D work to producing finished plant-derived ingredients under the new name, KeyLeaf.  KeyLeaf’s President and CEO Dale Kelly comments on the rebrand and the company’s new direction. What prompted the company’s rebranding and shift in business model? When…

On February 12, 2019, ingredient maker POS Bio Sciences announced it was pivoting away from applied contract R&D work to producing finished plant-derived ingredients under the new name, KeyLeaf.  KeyLeaf’s President and CEO Dale Kelly comments on the rebrand and the company’s new direction.

What prompted the company’s rebranding and shift in business model?

When we took the company private in 2013, we recognized that it would be very difficult to run a business doing contract R&D only, so we started down the road of creating our own ingredients based on what we learned over 40 years of R&D work.  We started to do internal R&D to develop other ingredients and we began to consider other businesses that we could spin out from the company.  We finally reached a point where we realized the need to rebrand and we renamed ourselves “KeyLeaf”.

Does the new company, KeyLeaf, still do contract R&D?

Yes, but we’re more selective now with whom we work.  In many cases, rather than trying to do all the manufacturing ourselves, we’re now partnering with R&D groups who are looking for someone to take their ingredients to a commercial level, which is our expertise.  Also, when we find companies that already have brands established where our ingredient works well, then we’ll obviously make the smart choice and partner with them. We are able to scale up from bench top to commercial production under one roof, that’s unique and rare in our industry.

What do you believe sets KeyLeaf apart from other ingredient manufacturers?

Because we’ve worked with plant materials from all over the world for nearly 5 decades and have amassed a huge database of plant-derived compounds, we often have some of the best ideas about how to take a particular ingredient from one plant and marry it with an ingredient from another plant to bring about a novel combined ingredient for use in a beverage or in an edible.  And thanks to our artificial intelligence machine learning program, “Big Data”, we can combine two plant ingredients in a computerized model that tells us exactly the kind of ingredient that will evolve, and we can accomplish this without spending the money and time to do development in the lab or in a pilot plant.  We feel that we are very unique in that respect.  There aren’t many companies around the world that have a database that’s as robust as ours.  The whole area of machine learning and artificial intelligence for ingredient development has come of age for us.

What kinds of new ingredients can we expect to see from KeyLeaf in the near term?

We have a number of ingredients in development at the moment.  One is an MCT hemp product that will be in a microencapsulated powder form, and there are applications in various industries for it.  We are in the market with our basic DHA and EPA oils and emulsions, and we’re currently building a product line that incorporates algal DHA with hemp-derived CBD.  I believe before 2019 ends we’ll be in the market with our first product combining those two ingredients.

Plant-based DHA algal oil made by your subsidiary, Algarithm, has quickly found its way into Ritual’s vegan Essentials for Women vitamin line and Virun’s O3 Omega Smoothie line.How do you account for the oil’s incredible acceptance by the natural food, beverage, and nutritional supplement industries?

Being in business for 40 years means we have a lot of very unique manufacturing knowhow.  The reason our ingredients stand out against our competitors’ is because we have developed tweaks for compounds like the omegas, where there is a concern about fishy aftertaste.  Our omegas have NO fishy aftertaste. Potential clients that comparison tested our algal oil to our competitors’ algal oil chose to become our clients in virtually every case.

Looking ahead 5 years from now, where do you see KeyLeaf as a player in the plant-based ingredient space?

KeyLeaf will continue to be an industry leader, as it has been for the past 4 decades, maintaining it’s dominance in the processing of plant-based proteins and oils while making ingredients for a healthier world.

April 25, 2019

Monetizing the Hemp Plant: Part Two

Here are a few more of the thousands of hemp-sourced products and ingredients set to fuel North American GDP as we prepare to enter a new decade: CLOTHING and TEXTILES – Textiles made of hemp fiber are durable and resistant to stretching, holding their shape well throughout the years. Hemp clothing offers a breathable material perfect…

Here are a few more of the thousands of hemp-sourced products and ingredients set to fuel North American GDP as we prepare to enter a new decade:

CLOTHING and TEXTILES – Textiles made of hemp fiber are durable and resistant to stretching, holding their shape well throughout the years. Hemp clothing offers a breathable material perfect for multiple seasons (insulating during cold winter months, breathable through muggy summer times). The plant’s natural tan and taupe tones pair well with most colors, or the fabric can be dyed for a bolder look.

Tote Bags and Backpacks – Hemp fiber is quite strong (8x the tensile strength of cotton!) and perhaps the most durable of natural textile fibers. Resisting stretching and sagging, hemp textiles make for superb catch-all carriers that are often banged or beat-up.

RUGS and FLOOR COVERINGS – Non- toxic, durable and long-lasting, hemp fiber floor coverings are great for high traffic or sun-beaten areas. With just a few months to mature, hemp offers a more sustainable alternative to chemical and water-intensive fiber crops such as cotton.

FIBERBOARD – Hemp stalks contain two main types of fiber: bast, or long fibers found in the bark (skin), and hurd, or short fibers located in the core of the stem. These fibers can be used to create a mold and pest resistant hemp fiberboard that is lighter, ~2x as strong, and ~3x as elastic as wood chip particle boards.

FUEL – Organic plant matter (biomass) can be converted into a wide variety of fuels, primarily through pyrolysis, or the application of high heat with little or no air.  With a short maturation life (~4 months), effective carbon sequestration, and four times as much biomass/cellulose potential than its closest competitors (cornstalks, sugarcane, trees), hemp proves to be one of the most efficient and abundant sources of organic matter for conversion to fuel.

PLASTICS – Hemp plastics are non-toxic, biodegradable, and more sustainable than current petroleum-based methods. Hemp bio-plastic makes use of cellulose found in the stalk [bast] fibers and can even be mixed with traditional formulas for stronger composite plastic products. Standard compression and injection molding methods as well as new R&D advancements are making safer, alternative plastics feasible with a smaller ecological impact.

VEHICLES – Used for centuries to make durable canvas sails, ropes and rigging for sailing vessels, Henry Ford, (of automotive Ford fame), incorporated hemp with other plant materials to create a durable hemp plastic for the body and fenders of his early Model-T’s.  More recently, new methods of combining hemp cellulose fiber with water allows for the production of auto bodies and interior panels in virtually any shape or style, as well as scooters, skateboards, and bicycles.

April 16, 2019

Monetizing the Hemp Plant: Part One

According to statistics supplied by the Hemp Business Journal, US hemp-based product sales are on track to reach $2.6 billion by 2022 – an amount ten times greater than their 2012 level. But it isn’t just a growing demand for hemp-sourced CBD products and other phytocannabinoids that is driving sales projections upwards.  Also ready and…

According to statistics supplied by the Hemp Business Journal, US hemp-based product sales are on track to reach $2.6 billion by 2022 – an amount ten times greater than their 2012 level.

But it isn’t just a growing demand for hemp-sourced CBD products and other phytocannabinoids that is driving sales projections upwards.  Also ready and waiting to be monetized is hemp’s amazing arsenal of proteins, minerals, fatty acids, and fibers.

Here are just a few of the many products and ingredients derived from the whole hemp plant (roots, seeds, stalks, leaves and flowers) that are predicted to generate explosive revenues in the natural products marketplace over the next several years:

PROTEIN POWDERS and DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS – Vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters can all add a complete plant-based protein which is also rich in fiber (a one-ounce serving has ~14 grams of protein and ~4 grams of fiber). When the entire seed is used to make the protein powder, one gains many of the same perks of hemp seed oil, including 20 amino acids (all 9 of the essential amino acids), and polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

FOOD INGREDIENTS – Often consisting of the seed core (hearts), shells (hulls), and/or hemp oil, recipes containing hemp are generally rich in essential amino acids, polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6), fiber and minerals. Easy digestibility and high protein content make for a rich, plant-based ingredient suitable for many dietary restrictions (i.e. vegans, vegetarians, and those with soy or tree-nut allergies).

BEVERAGES – Hemp drinks are often derived from the hemp seed and range from energy drinks to non-dairy milk substitutes to craft ale beers.  Milk substitutes made from soaked hemp seeds contain the essential amino acids and are great sources of protein for vegans or individuals with soy and tree-nut allergies.

SOAP – For sensitive-skinned folks and vegans alike, hemp seed oil soap is particularly good for bathing because it is rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), vitamin E, and other polyunsaturated fats soothing to the skin. Additionally, hemp soaps make excellent household cleaning agents because they contain few synthetic ingredients or damaging chemicals

Cosmetics and Skin Care Products – Hemp seed oil is often used in skin emollients and lotions because it alleviates itching, irritation, and soothes dryness. Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (3:1 ratio), it also contains other key amino and essential fatty acids (polyunsaturated). Hemp moisturizers offer an effective, natural alternative to petroleum derivatives, preservatives, synthetic fragrances and dyes.

PAPER – Hemp paper has been found in China dating back to 100 BC. Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were originally drafted on hemp paper. With 2-to-3 times more cellulose (fiber) that wood, hemp processing uses far fewer chemicals and less water. Deforestation is also mitigated with hemp inputs, as growing global demand strains the energy intensive process of turning wood pulp into paper.

DIAPERS – Although usually blended with cotton for softness and comfort, chemical-free ant-microbial hemp components boost diaper performance with about 8x the absorbency of cotton.