When Keenan Pascal and Jamie Shtay decided to found Token Naturals, a cannabis company focused on the extraction and derivative products, they never imagined that they would also become the Edmonton Region’s first local bitters company. They certainly didn’t expect a reach that extends beyond the region nationally and internationally and into markets as far off as Japan. However, that is exactly what they did.
Initially, the pair was focused on developing their patented extraction process with help from the vast array of talent available in the oil and gas industry that exists in the Edmonton region. Once this was complete, the Token Naturals team found themselves in a bit of a holding period as they moved through the process of licensing phases to sell legal cannabis products with Health Canada.
A new concept is born
Keenan and Jamie already had strong ties to the restaurant and bar community in the region and with another founder’s background in chemical engineering and molecular science, an idea was hatched to develop a line of bitters from locally sourced ingredients and the concept behind Token Bitters was born.
“The process for extraction to produce bitters is essentially the same as the technology we developed for our cannabis extraction business,” said Token Naturals CEO, Keenan Pascal. “We thought this would be a good way to test out and practice our process.”
What began as a pet project, immediately garnered a positive response within the local region and in just 4 years Token Bitters has resulted in a product that is sold nationally across Canada, exported to Japan, at the precipice of export to Mexico and Europe and has a view to further expansion in international markets.
Extending the reach of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region
Each of Token Bitters products is named after beloved Edmonton landmarks. Strathcona Orange is named after the beloved historic neighbourhood, and Whyte Lavender takes its name from the location of co-founder Pascal’s first bartending job.
Exporting these products is also sharing the stories of this region across the globe.
Despite the success found in their bitters line, the Token team has not lost sight of the vision for their cannabis extraction business.
Banking on the Edmonton Metropolitan Region for success
Co-founder and CEO of Token Naturals, Keenan Pascal is an enthusiastic advocate for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region and what it has to offer.
“The Edmonton Metropolitan Region has everything we need to build success for our organization,” says Pascal. “Here, we have access to a skilled, young, and eager workforce with plentiful experience in agriculture, manufacturing, and processing. The provincial and municipal governments in the region have traditionally included some of the most proactive and pro-business attitudes. For us, this has been the perfect culmination of the forces required to lead an industry. It’s my opinion that this is the best city to live in and the best city to work in.”
The idea behind Token Naturals began in Vancouver, but when it came time to decide where the new organization would choose to invest, the founders decided that the Edmonton Metropolitan Region had what they needed to find success.
Currently, Token Naturals is a late-stage Licensed Producer applicant with Health Canada. The organization recently began construction of an extraction facility that will have the capacity to process 65,000 kg of cannabis flower each year into extracted and derivative products like oils and edibles. The facility is set to open in August 2020. The completion of the refinery facility will allow Token to move forward with their Licensed Producer application from Conditional Approval to a Standard Processor license.
“We wouldn’t be about to round this corner if not for the supportive environment that exists in the Edmonton region as well as the forward-thinking policies of the provincial and municipal governing bodies,” says Pascal.