When it launched in 2017, Azuca set out to solve what CEO and co-founder Kim Sanchez Rael called “the edibles problem.”

Specifically, how can manufacturers create cannabis-infused food and beverage products that are fast-acting, great-tasting and offer predictable dosing?

“I think of that now as table stakes,” Sanchez Rael said. “The onset issues, the dosing issues — if you don’t have that solved, you are a lightyear behind all the other brands.”

Azuca, which is known for its TiME Infusion encapsulation system, has taken it a step further. Last year, after four years of development, the company launched Whole-Plant ACTiVATOR, allowing manufacturers to convert whole cannabis flower into an ingredient for downstream ingestible applications.

By skipping extraction, this method preserves cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, allowing edibles manufacturers and brands to offer whole-spectrum, strain-specific experiences. While consumers seeking higher doses may turn toward plant-focused products, Sanchez Rael said the Whole-Plant ACTiVATOR isn’t driven by potency.

“As a matter of fact, it’s more effective in low or moderate doses,” she said. “It’s really (for) an end user who wants to experience the full entourage effect, the strain-specific experience of the terpenes and the cannabinoids but without smoking. It’s the only way to really do that in an ingestible form, in an edible form.”

Sanchez Rael added the Whole-Plant ACTiVATOR creates opportunities for cultivators to highlight and expand the audience for their specific strains.

“It gives you, as that grower or that craft grower, a way to convert your incredible flower into an ingestible form for your customers who don’t want to smoke or want to have the option to not smoke but still really like your strains, they like your specific cultivation and genetics,” she said. “It creates that brand expansion for a cultivator who’s really good at what they’re doing.”

Azuca also introduced its RTD ACTiVATOR in 2023. Designed for beverage manufacturers, the RTD ACTiVATOR is an uninfused precursor offering fast-acting onset and consistent potency.

Sanchez Rael said she has “been bullish” on the growing cannabis beverage sector, pointing to the category’s role in social consumption.

“We are social creatures,” she said. “We are accustomed to socializing with a beverage in our hand.”

This year, Azuca will focus on executing in new verticals with new partners, as well as working with partners to onboard the Whole-Plant and RTD ACTiVATORS. The company is also testing a next-gen activator with a more intense onset.

“We’re committed to constant innovation and then bringing those innovations to brands and manufacturing partners,” Sanchez Rael said.