While gummies, chocolate and beverages are among the most popular formats for edibles, Gayonica Inc. has taken a different approach to developing cannabis-infused food.
Late last year, the Quebec company introduced Jublee fruit bites, made with dried fruit, sunflower butter and other functional ingredients, along with cannabis extract. After experiencing success in Quebec, Gayonica recently announced plans to expand to Ontario.
Cannabis Products Insider recently spoke to Alexandre Poulin, Gayonica’s chief innovation officer, about the inspiration behind the Jublee brand, its development and future plans for expansion.
CPI: What was the inspiration behind Jublee fruit bites?
AP: As a legacy worker with a chef and sommelier background, I’ve been working with cannabis and flavors for the better part of the last decade. For several years, I got the chance to travel to some of the greatest cannabis producing regions in the world, and I got to meet and learn from some of the most amazing and knowledgeable individuals. The generosity of my numerous collaborators throughout the years, and a great deal of curiosity, gave me the tools to understand both the traditional and modern use of this plant that I love so much. This allowed me to develop several products, mostly edibles, topicals, hashish, vapes and elevated dining experiences.
In parallel, I was experimenting and researching new and innovative ways to combine the benefits of cannabis with superfoods, functional ingredients, vitamins and nutraceuticals. I always wanted people to see another side of cannabis edible consumption, one that is natural, well dosed, healthy and in perfect synergy with the other components of the product. Creating a healthy and tasty alternative to classic sugary edibles is the inspiration behind Jublee’s fruit bites.
CPI: How did you approach flavor development for the fruit bites?
AP: For the Quebec market and its “insular” nature, we worked closely with the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) to provide us with information about the ingredients and food products that would be allowed in this unique legislative landscape — the “dos and don’ts.”
For example, we were not allowed to use cocoa products or sweeteners in our recipes. As for the shape, we wanted to introduce spherical fruit bites, but we were told to shape them in a rectangular prism, hence the actual prism shape of the bites. Our Apricot & Reishi bites were developed to comply with Quebec’s particularities.
After being authorized in Quebec, we looked at the rest of Canada and began studying trends and researching various formulations. The other three varieties were developed with the intention of distributing everywhere else, but we still proposed them to the SQDC, in case they were interested in putting other varieties on their shelves.
As of now, we are very grateful that they accepted to market all our fruit bite varieties except the Cherry & Cocoa.
CPI: How do you source ingredients?
AP: We mostly work with Quebec suppliers. We make efforts to use local ingredients when and if possible. For example, our Blueberry & Lavender fruit bites are made with wild Canadian blueberries. As part of our desire to provide a “democratic” edible to the Canadian market, we decided to offer allergen-free and vegan products. This can complicate things as there are fewer suppliers that can comply with our higher standards. Sometimes it can be challenging to have stability in our supply chain, but we have the best partners looking out for us.
CPI: Why did you decide to highlight the desired mood effect for each variety?
AP: Cannabis consumers are getting more educated every day and are asking for specific and reproducible effects. The goal was to create formulations that have specific effects on the human metabolism even without the cannabinoids. For example, our Apple & Matcha fruit bites contain organic matcha tea with about 15 mg of naturally occurring caffeine per portion (20 g), which represents more or less a third of the caffeine content in an espresso shot. This makes this fruit bite uplifting and stimulating even without cannabis. The addition of the active cannabinoids allows us to exacerbate the various effects specifically crafted for each variety.
CPI: Why offer four dosage options for each variety?
AP: We have tested many dosages for our various products. On our sell sheets, we suggest four dosage profiles that should provide effects within the targeted spectrum for that particular formulation. This is what we call the desired/potential effects. That being said, cannabinoids can affect people differently. The set and setting in which people are consuming cannabis are also important.
We offer two psychotropic profiles and two non-psychotropic ones. The use of minor cannabinoids allows us to craft improved specific effects, but as of now, no provincial board has listed these formulations so far. In Quebec we offer 5 mg THC : 10 mg CBD and 0 mg THC : 50 mg CBD profiles. In Ontario, Ontario Cannabis Store has listed one profile only, the 5 mg THC : 10 mg CBD. We are hoping to bring minor cannabinoid varieties to Quebec and to Ontario in our next listing.
CPI: When did they hit the market in Quebec? How would you describe the consumer response?
AP: We entered the Quebec market with three varieties in December 2022. The consumer response was very good, as demonstrated by our sales velocity. Quebec didn’t have much to offer in the edible segment before we arrived. People seem glad to have a new, innovative and legal way to incorporate cannabis in their lives. Without a proper edible offering, a huge portion of Quebec consumers buy their edibles on illegal websites. We like to think we’re making a difference by changing these buying patterns with our offer of a legal, healthy and tasty alternative.
CPI: Why did you decide to bring the Jublee fruit bites to Ontario next?
AP: Firstly, Ontario was the next logical step for us as we are neighbors. Secondly, I was really interested to see how our products will do in a more mature market with a lot more products on the shelves. We seek competition and data — it drives innovation, and we’re all about innovation. We are very excited to hear the response from Ontario’s consumers.
CPI: Do you have plans to expand the Jublee brand to other provinces?
AP: Alberta should be next and then British Columbia.
CPI: Do you have any plans to introduce other varieties?
AP: We have been working on four new flavors with very interesting profiles that combine other minor cannabinoids like CBC and THCV. We can’t say much more for now. We should make an announcement this spring.
CPI: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
AP: I’m grateful for being able to provide this new way of consuming cannabis to the people of Ontario. I sincerely hope we’ll exceed their expectations.