By Harrison Bard, CEO of Custom Cones USA
In cannabis, flower has long been seen as both the best-selling product category across dispensaries in the U.S. (compared to other product types such as concentrates, pre-rolls, or edibles). Bud has also been the premier way to showcase a specific brand’s credentials. From flavor profiles to potency, flower displays the benchmark of success in the cannabis industry. However, a recently published report from Custom Cones USA in partnership with Headset shows that pre-rolls are the trending future of the cannabis industry, with automated mechanized production proving to be a key driver of this shift. The report, which includes polling from over 300 companies and retail data from Headset, illustrates the factors driving the rise of cannabis pre-rolls and technological innovation within the sector.
The cannabis industry has witnessed a significant shift in consumer preferences, with pre-rolls emerging as the fastest-growing product category, growing at 12% year-over-year in the U.S. and a whopping 38% year-over-year in Canada. While flower remains the top-selling cannabis product, advancements in table-top cone filling machines and automated pre-roll machines, along with the price of wholesale flower dropping dramatically, has allowed for the possibility of the production of higher quality pre-rolls with less labor costs at lower retail price points, leading to strong growth for the pre-roll product category. Additionally, pre-rolls are showing the least amount of price compression compared to other cannabis products, making them a preferred category for businesses to expand sales with and boost profitability.
The Evolution of Automated Pre-Roll Machines
Traditionally, pre-rolls were handmade, making them expensive and time-consuming to produce. The advent of automated pre-roll machines revolutionized the industry, enabling producers to create quality pre-rolls efficiently and affordably. These machines operate automatically with minimal human intervention, streamlining various aspects of the pre-roll making process. These machines do, however, need to be monitored, maintained, cleaned, and supplied with raw materials – but they are super efficient at performing the functions they are made to achieve. From grinding and filling pre-rolled cones to twisting, infusing, and packaging, there are specialized machines available for every step. Businesses have the flexibility to choose the machines that align with their production scale and needs, allowing for gradual automation or upgrades in machinery as they expand. Think about starting with one machine and scaling up with another when it makes sense.
Considerations for Implementing Automated Pre-Roll Machines
Before incorporating automated pre-roll machines, several factors warrant consideration. Some machines require less human labor and offer ease of operation, while others may involve a learning curve. Evaluating the manufacturer’s reputation is crucial, as machines from established companies with a track record of refinement tend to offer greater reliability and functionality. If this is a company’s first attempt at making this particular machine, rather than a later iteration of a machine’s design, it may mean that adjustments have not yet been made to the machine’s functionality based on field usage and feedback.
Optimizing Machine Performance
Some automated pre-roll machines require less human labor than others, but either way, most of the responsibility falls on the person that is operating the machine. Achieving consistent results with automated pre-roll machines necessitates attention to certain factors. The quality and consistency of the cannabis material are paramount. Finely ground, dry, and consistently sized cannabis ensures smooth machine operation. Chunky, sticky, or moist material can impede performance. Additionally, controlling the operating environment, such as maintaining an optimal room temperature, prevents resin from becoming sticky and causing operational issues. Furthermore, selecting high-quality cones that fit the machine’s specifications is essential for seamless production.
Unlocking the Potential of Automation
While most of the narrative around automated pre-roll machinery focuses on filling machines, there are many other functions for utilizing automated pre-roll machines. Additional automation features, such as sifters, are used after the grinding process to ensure consistent particle sizes. These keep particulates out of the pre-roll machinery that may cause damage, such as pieces of stems that may puncture holes in the sides of cones, which would cause the pre-roll to have a weak draw.
Automated pre-roll infusion machines have also gained popularity, enabling producers to efficiently infuse hundreds of pre-rolls in one hour. When infused pre-rolls first came about, they were considered a luxury product but with easier and more cost-effective production, the market for these products continues to expand.
Scaling Up with Automated Pre-Roll Machines
As businesses contemplate scaling up production, the modular nature of automated pre-roll machines proves advantageous since there are different machines for different parts of the pre-roll process such as grinding, sifting, filling, etc. Investing in specific machines for different process stages allows for a gradual transition, based on production demands. Generally, when the need to produce more than 50,000 pre-rolls per month arises, automated machines become financially viable. However, other factors, such as consistent sourcing of cannabis and employee turnover rates, should also be taken into account.
Automated pre-roll machines present an opportunity for businesses to reduce labor costs, improve consistency, reduce contamination and increase output. However, implementing this technology requires careful research and consideration. While the use of automated machines may compromise some aspects of the “ideal joint” preferred by cannabis connoisseurs, the benefits in terms of efficiency and profitability cannot be overlooked. By staying informed and making educated decisions, businesses can harness the power of automated pre-roll machines.
About Custom Cones USA
Founded in 2017 by Harrison Bard and Fredrik Rading, Custom Cones USA is a leading pre-roll resource in the cannabis industry. The team has a wealth of knowledge about all aspects of pre-roll manufacturing and the entire pre-roll sector of the cannabis space. From custom-branded pre-rolled cones and wholesale bulk cones, to completely customized pre-roll packaging projects and pre-roll machines, they offer expertise and solutions to companies big and small in all sectors of the pre-roll space. Custom Cones USA wants to help their customers operate with relative ease and ensure both the companies and their customers to have the highest quality smoking experience.