If you take a walk through Hong Kong’s hipster neighbourhood of Sheung Wan, you’ll stumble across a chic new café and retail space called Found, nestled in between micro-roasters and vintage stores. With its wooden floorboards and sunny open space, it might look like your typical trendy store, but it’s actually Hong Kong’s first café dedicated to cannabidiol (CBD) products. “We realised that there was a need for a physical space because there’s so much stigma attached to cann
annabis. Our customers need to talk to somebody in person to feel more comfortable about the substance,” explains Altum co-founder Fiachra Mullen. “So that’s why we started Found, it’s a place for people to discover or rediscover the benefits of cannabinoids and ask questions in a safe space without judgment.” Altum is a two-year-old Australian cannabinoids supplier that mainly offers CBD oils sold in bulk volumes to businesses to add into food, beverages, cosmetics and more. It also owns its own consumer line, Felix and co, which range from morning to evening oils and even products aimed at animals. The business was recently acquired by Canadian greenhouse grower Village Farms International at a 6.6 per cent stake. The deal will elevate its vertically integrated production with its agriculture assets. While Altum is based in Australia, CBD is only available by prescription in the region, so Mullen and the team decided to open their first cafe in Hong Kong, which he claims to be the most progressive cannabinoid market in Asia. Customers at Found widely range from those in their millennials to Gen Xers, from locals to expats looking to rediscover or explore CBD, Mullen says. “It’s a great kind of meeting point of Western and Asian cultures that has a very cosmopolitan kind of international demographic. A lot of people who studied overseas are open minded,” he explains. Found will soon feature interactive events and workshops to further support and educate customers, with the help of well-informed staff who can help guide people, whether they’re just starting their journey with CBD or are simply looking for new products to try. Mullen hopes that one day, a 65-year-old Hong Kong man or woman would feel comfortable enough to walk through his café doors. And for those who aren’t able to access the café, plans are in the works to launch online educational content. Apart from their own products in the cafe, Found also sells CBD-infused beverages created in partnership with local brands, such as Young Master beer and Be-Juiced cold-pressed juices. Altum has also partnered with local yoga studies to create a morning CBD oil and its planning to create a relaxing stimulant for the Crossfit community in the future. The CBD café fits into the hipster neighbourhood of Sheung Wan. Image: Supplied Changing the conversation The social stigma of cannabis has dwindled as consumers are finding new ways to manage the stress and uncertainty in today’s society and Found has reaped success from this recent surge of customers. After all, the benefits of CBD oil are endless, alleviating anxiety and inflammation amongst other physical and mental health concerns. From the progressive legalisation of CBD in various regions and the increased research into the product, the CBD oil market in the APAC region is forecast to reach US$10 billion by 2024. However, with the rise of demand, Altum was recently met with supply chain challenges with shipment delays and they struggled to stretch their sales inventory to meet customer demand. Lockdown and dining restrictions also unfortunately hindered its operations. But with the help of its recent funding from Village Farm, Altum is now planning to provide a more competitive and low-cost CBD range for the APAC region, with Japan, Australia and New Zealand on its radar.