On May 13, 2021, two of the fastest-trending CBD businesses in the market joined forces to create a unified brand of responsibly sourced hemp-derived products. Hawaii’s hemp star Verma Farms acquired Gen Z−focused Penguin, bringing their team and portfolio of products under the Verma Farms umbrella.
Deep Patel, CEO and founder of Penguin, launched the company in late 2019 at the age of 20, just before the global pandemic shut down the United States and sent the world into an economic downturn. Not only has Penguin survived the adversities of the past year; it has grown so much that it caught the attention of AJ Agrawal, CEO and founder of Verma Farms. The two made this deal for an undisclosed (all cash) amount, with a transition effective immediately.
Combining two of the most innovative brands in the industry — one that’s known for its innovative “cookies and cream CBD oil” and the other that created a Hawaiian-inspired assortment of edible CBD products, such as the Maui melon CBD gummy — will yield a youth-inspired array of some of the best consumer products in the hemp market. With this merger, the portfolio of products undoubtedly will expand even further.
Verma Farms and Penguin are both U.S.-based brands, using hemp grown and sourced from Hawaii and Oregon, respectively. The two companies focus on sustainability and ethical transparency, ensuring that consumers have access to the highest-quality CBD — along with the proof that the label tells the truth.
“As a brand, one of our core focuses has been to ensure transparency for our consumers,” says Patel. “We’re ecstatic to join up with Verma Farms, which shares this vision in making sure everyone who buys a CBD product knows exactly what goes into it, therefore knowing exactly what’s going into their bodies.”
Penguin and Verma Farms use third-party lab testing and offer certificates of analysis to provide comprehensive product information to anyone who wants it. Because of the lack of FDA regulation for CBD oil, Agrawal and Patel knew they had to take extra steps to ensure consumer safety. “It’s up to the brands to do the extra leg work and put consumers at ease, equipping them with this kind of information,” says Patel. “AJ and I have both been hyper-focused on transparency, consumer education and the highest level of safety via rigorous third-party lab testing at GMP-certified, FDA-inspected labs.”
Farming is also a central focus for this umbrella of brands. “When I founded Verma Farms in the summer of 2019, I wanted to create a product that leaves the world in a better place,” says Agrawal. “One of the ways we do that is through kindness to the planet — and that comes from the way we grow our hemp. It starts by keeping things organic, pesticide-free and GMO-free. Not only does this make for a more environmentally friendly agricultural process, but it guarantees a cleaner, healthier product.”
Penguin has had a similar mission with their products. Says Patel, “It’s amazing to share a vision with a brand like Verma Farms, especially in this time of the ‘green boom,’ in which so many backyard businesses are popping up trying to make a quick buck − without any consideration for the consumer or the planet. Verma Farms is the opposite of that, which is one of the biggest reasons we chose to make this deal with them.”
Verma Farms, which offers product flavors like Hawaiian Rainbow, Island Apple and Blueberry Wave, was inspired by the magic of Maui. Agarwal describes the lush landscape and warm energy of the island as “untapped and pure.” The healthy lifestyle and natural landscape of the Valley Isle served as the young CEO’s inspiration for a health product formulation; something a consumer could ingest on the island or off. The intention is to help the consumer tap into a natural, healthy energy with the help of a plant-based supplement.
And in the hands of media-savvy Patel, Penguin has prided itself on not just the product, but on the brand’s ability to tap into pop culture. A combination of social media prowess and on-trend marketing tactics have kept Penguin’s finger on the pulse of what younger consumers want — and this has informed the product lineup as well. It also helps that Patel is Gen Z himself.
The combined brands are set to launch new products (in varying doses), new flavors of existing products, and social and environmental initiatives. They aim to hold the hemp industry to a higher standard by setting a precedent with their own practices. The Penguin brand will continue and Penguin staff will remain with the company, with Patel set to stay on as an advisor for the family of brands.
“The past two years have been an incredible journey for myself and my business,” says Patel. “The hemp industry as a whole has seen monumental changes in such a short time, and every business owner in this space has had to stay on their toes. But together with Verma Farms, we’re stronger than ever. I’m so excited to see how we can continue to innovate and disrupt a crowded industry, see more profit and growth, and help our consumers lead healthier, happier lives.”
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