AgroRefiner opens seed-to-sale CBD manufacturing plant

NEW CASTLE – AgroRefiner opened its warehouse earlier this month, becoming one of the first in Delaware to extract cannabidiol oil from hemp and sell it directly to manufacturers of trendy wellness products. The startup hemp processor is breaking into the seed-to-sale business to extract CBD, a non-psychoactive substance, from hemp plants. With 15 technicians on site, AgroRefiner can process approximately 75 tons of dried organically grown hemp per year. The product lineup will feature THC-free distillate, isolate, CBN, and CBD A, with aims to be used in creams, gummy bears or other similar products. AgroRefiner is one of the first hemp extraction facilities to be located in Delaware after federal and state laws changed, opening the door for a new boom in the agriculture industry. In 2018, a law was signed that legalized the hemp industry, sparking the rising industry in creams and edibles. Last year, Gov. John Carney signed a law that added hemp to the state’s definition of grain, opening up the door for the state Department of Agriculture to create regulations on growing it for commercial use. Howard Matz, CEO of AgroRefiner and a finance executive with Derivee Capital Group in Manhattan, believes there’s space for a mid-size operation to find ground. “It’s a growing business still in its infancy. Our strategy is to do something very moderate compared to what other folks have done, which is very large or very small in size,” Matz said. “We just want to be the wholesaler manufacturer in an increasing industry.” Organic hemp plants bought from regional farmers will be dried in natural-gas furnaces. From there, the plant is placed in a closed-loop, ethanol-extraction system designed to separate CBD oil from the plants. Roughly 97% of the ethanol used in the closed loop is recovered and reused. Looking to the future growth plans, Matz said the focus is on building its customer base before looking to expand operations. “I think we’ll reassess our capacity and the need for additional equipment and the value of equipment that we have ascertained by duplicating it or expanding it,” he said.