Puro NZ has been granted BioGro Organic status for its outdoor cultivation, making it one of the world’s largest producers of organic medical cannabis and the only organic grower in Australasia.
The organic status was granted for Puro’s outdoor growing site at Kēkerengū, on the Kaikōura Coast, by BioGro, New Zealand's largest and best-known certifier for organic produce and products. Puro has been working with BioGro for the last two years to become certified as organic, an achievement Puro Managing Director Tim Aldridge says is a testament to the work and commitment of the Puro team.
“We are the only organic medical cannabis producer in New Zealand or Australia and one of only a handful of commercial medical cannabis operations with an internationally-recognised organic certification like BioGro, so this achievement puts Puro in a very elite group globally” says Tim.
Growing organically has been part of Puro’s kaupapa since Puro began, with the company investing heavily in its organic production systems.
“Our vision has been to set the standard for a medical cannabis industry that is organic, sustainable, and environmentally conscious. First and foremost, we are organic because it’s the right thing to do for our people, our land, our community, and our plants. Importantly, it also provides Puro a huge point of difference in global export markets, as we take New Zealand cannabis to international buyers,” says Tim.
Organically certified cannabis products are selling at a premium of up to 90% in established overseas markets, compared to similar non-organic products.
Puro Quality and Compliance Manager Wendy Tillman says Puro’s commitment to growing organically hasn’t been without challenges.
“We are a very new industry here in New Zealand and one of very few organic growers worldwide, so we’ve had to break new ground in terms of finding effective and appropriate products and processes that do the job while fitting our organic approach. This has included exploring how organic fertilisers can help provide the nutrients our plants need and introducing specific predator species on site to control the pests that threaten our plants, and so, reducing the need to use pesticides,” says Wendy.
However, Puro’s organic journey hasn’t just been about the plants.
“Achieving BioGro Organic certification has required an in-depth look at every system and process we work within at our Kēkerengū site, from germination to growing and then through to the processing and packaging, so that our end product retains its organic status,” says Wendy.
Organic Aotearoa New Zealand Chairman Chris Morrison has visited Puro’s Kēkerengū site. He says Puro is an exemplar of a company working with nature, creating high-value organic products that consumers around the world are willing to pay a premium for.
“Puro are pioneers in the medical cannabis industry. With their smart technologies, internationally-recognised team and organically focused research and development workstreams, Puro is building a depth of knowledge that will benefit the wider horticultural industry, providing opportunities for agricultural diversification and regional economic growth,” says Chris.
Puro’s focus is now on its indoor growing facilities and research centre at Waihopai, near Blenheim, with a vision to commence organic certification for these facilities in the near future.