Biotech-derived cannabinoid molecules from Amyris are on their way into beauty

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (Sinhyu)
© Getty Images \ (Sinhyu)

Related tags cannabidiol biotech

Late last year, Amyris announced a first shipment of its fermentation-made cannabinoid ingredient to LAVVAN; and the molecules are likely to end up in products across a number of industries, including beauty and personal care.

“We are very pleased to end 2019 with strong operational performance and business momentum,” ​says John Melo, president and CEO of Amyris, in a press release about both the shipment to LAVVAN and Amyris’ year-end updates.

“We plan to continue building on our position as the leading synthetic biology company by continuing to deliver the highest purity and most sustainably sourced ingredients for the health, beauty, and flavor and fragrance industries,”​ says Melo.

“Our brands,”​ he asserts, “are delivering the leading products in their respective categories and this is helping us deliver an excellent quarter. We expect to have our financing needs behind us early in 2020 and a strong year of profitable growth.”

Among the brands, Melo is alluding to, are the popular skin care line Biossance (which gets half its revenue from the brand’s own ecommerce site) and the mom and baby personal care collection known as Pipette, launched just last year. Though it’s not clear at this point if Amyris, or any of its subsidiaries will launch an in-house cannabinoid beauty brand.  

A biotech partnership that’s all about cannabinoids

“In March 2019, LAVVAN signed an exclusive licensing, development, and commercialization agreement with Amyris, Inc. for fermentation-derived cannabinoids,”​ according to the About content on LAVVAN’s LinkedIn page. And this first shipment (which was announced on December 27) is a result of that deal.

LAVVAN’s short list of industry relationships includes only pharmaceutical, food, beverage, and finance; but it’s clear that beauty is a piece of the company’s business as well. Carol Hamilton, group president of the Luxe Division at L’Oréal, sits on LAVVAN’s six-person strategic advisory board. And the Amyris press release announcing the first cannabinoid shipment takes care to mention that “Amyris is a market leader in clean beauty.”

Biotech and cannabis molecules are shaping up to be big business

Of course Amyris isn’t the only biotech company in the cannabinoid business. Ginkgo Bioworks is also in the mix. The Boston, Massachusetts – based company signed a deal with Cronon Group (out of Toronto, Canada) to produced “cultured cannabinoids”​ in September of 2018.   

In a media release issued at the time, Mike Gorenstein, CEO of Cronos Group commented that, “The potential uses of cannabinoids are vast, but the key to successfully bringing cannabinoid-based products to market is in creating reliable, consistent, and scalable production of a full spectrum of cannabinoids, not just THC and CBD. We are thrilled to partner with Ginkgo; their biological engineering capabilities and disruptive technology platform are unrivaled. Together we can revolutionize the cannabis industry.”

This concept of consistent quality and quantity of bio-based ingredients is quite common as industry looks for ways to source naturals in a way that is on par in scale and scope with synthetic ingredient production. And industry observers think biotech makes sense in the cannabinoid space: “Companies developing products solely from the cultivation of cannabis plants will find themselves unable to compete with the manifold advantages associated with industrial-scale cannabinoid biosynthesis,” ​stated Paradigm Capital, when Marijuana Business Daily asked for comment​ on the Amyris – LAVVAN deal back in March.



Deanna Utroske is a globally sought-after speaker and commentator in both the cosmetics and personal care industry as well as in the indie beauty movement.​ As Editor of, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.

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