Harnessing hemp: Koru Pharmaceuticals develops K-beauty skin care made with hybrid Korean variant
Based in Seoul, Koru Pharmaceuticals specialises in anti-ageing medical aesthetic and skin rejuvenation products. Its portfolio includes fillers, bio-revitalization and mesotherapy products, masks, threads and lipolytics.
The firm’s latest brand, Mesohemp, is a skin care range that contain a native Korean species of hemp called green hemp – a hybrid of imported cannabis from the Netherlands and Korean hemp.
Cultured in domestically, the ingredient contains 460 natural substances including Omega 3, 6, 9, and at least 20% cannabidiol (CBD), claims the company.
Koru Pharmaceuticals developed Mesohemp as a response to the tremendous progress of the CBD beauty market.
According to the Beauty Disruptor report by Prohibition Partners, the global cannabidiol CBD skin care market is projected to surge to €870.5m U$959m by 2024.
The cannabis market intelligence and consultancy firm predicted that by then, CBD beauty will represent 10% of the total global skin care market.
In November 2018, South Korea’s Narcotics Control Act was amended and use of medical cannabis became legal, making South Korea the first country in East Asia to legalise medical cannabis.
As it stands, current law in allows the import of CBD materials extracted from hemp seeds, stems and roots that do not contain any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Currently, the range consists of six products, including a cream, serum, sun block and facial sheet masks.
The company is intending to extend the range to include more products and is continuing to research on how hemp can be applied.
“Right now, we are conducting research and development of hemp related products and their effect on the hair growth because we believe that there is a huge potential of cosmetics in this area as well,” said Roman Vernidub, founder and CEO, Koru Pharmaceuticals.
“There has been no defined substantial study of the effect of hemp hair growth and I hope the research results will be positive and then we can create some nice products based on that.”
US and Canada first
While the company is based in South Korea, the line made its debut in the US and Canada first.
While the market for hemp products is crowded in those markets, Koru believes it can stand out in the market as a made-in-Korea brand and leverage on the popularity of K-beauty products.
“South Korea is one of the strongest countries in the manufacturing in of cosmetics in the world. We feel there’s a big opportunity among K-beauty trends and hemp-related products to show the expert potential [of South Korean manufacturing],” said Vernidub.
It will be available via e-commerce platform Amazon and the company is also working to enter offline channels such as drugstores.
Marketing director Liam Lusk added that the North American markets are an ideal jump off point for the brand to expand further in the future.
“We all know that the US and Canada are huge markets. Whilst the competitors there are big, I think if we can make it in those markets, we we’ll definitely prove ourselves – then from there we can move to other territories around the globe,” he said.
The company sees opportunities in European markets such as Germany, the UK and France, where it has observed big demand.
Furthermore, it is also target South America, where it has already begun negotiations with its network of clients.
Eventually, the firm will circle back to the Asia Pacific region and enter markets such as South Korea.
Lusk said: “We will be looking at the Korean market in the future as well, as well as Japan and the other Southeast Asian countries. You know, we'll be focusing on areas like those but our focus at the beginning is definitely going to be the US and Canada.”