By Heather Collins
Before Denver’s population boom several years ago, Julie Lerner, CEO and Founder of PanXchange, the leading benchmark price provider in the US Hemp Industry and other physical commodities, already had her eyes set on living near the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
“While living in New York, I loved the idea of being closer to the mountains. It became clear Denver was the perfect spot to take my commodity knowledge and break out on my own.,” says Lerner, who was familiar with international trading from her experience at Cargill in Switzerland, the US, and Latin America. “My vision was to build my business platform for markets while enjoying my time outside in nature.”
In the past nine years, the company’s trading platform has disrupted commodity markets. PanXchange has set industry standards for efficient trade, accurate benchmark pricing, providing market intel, and specializes data for commodities such as East African corn, beans, peas, specialty sand (proppants) market for US oil and gas extraction and most recently, hemp. Its benchmarks are known as a pricing discovery tool with trade-backed data. Its monthly reports also include robust fundamental market analysis for manufacturers, buyers, farmers, end-users, and investors.
“Hemp wasn’t really on my radar when we first started because I created PanXchange before the passing of the Farm Bill,” says Lerner. Hemp was also far from Lerner’s expertise, “I’m a commodities specialist, not a hemp specialist.”
According to its website, the PanXchange hemp platform is “a user-friendly, centralized marketplace to source and trade hemp biomass, crude oil, isolate, distillate, and flower.” In October, the company began issuing the first and only US benchmark prices for Hemp Grain and True Hemp.
Hemp Takes Off
Lerner admits that when marijuana became legal, she knew it had limited growth potential as a commodity (vs. a specialty product), unlike hemp, which is viable and sustainable. “When PanXchange first started back in 2012, everyone talked about cannabis because recreational marijuana had just become legalized in Colorado. We didn’t bite.”
Four weeks after the passing of the Farm Bill, PanXchange’s hemp platform was up and running, and according to Lerner, “We were first-to-market on providing benchmarks for hemp. Everything we were doing from our patented methodologies and reports with other commodities, actually prepared us for hemp.”
Due to the popularity of hemp, PanXchange carefully vets those who request access to the patented platform. Lerner indicates, “We want to build a relationship in understanding what the buyer needs to succeed, and we want to know what it takes to move hemp from Point A to Point B.”
Leading the Industry
Unlike other agencies in the space, Lerner is quick to point out that, “PanXchange is far more than a reporting agency. We are a trusted source that relies on trade-backed data, thanks to the relationships we have built. We pride ourselves on keeping the industry informed with interactive pricing charts, fundamental analysis, and data.”
A frequent media contributor to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, Lerner is also the recipient of the Denver Business Journal’s “Colorado’s 12 Most Admired CEOs” in 2018 and the Outstanding Women in Business Award in 2020. Markets Choice recently named Lerner one of six finalists for the 6th Annual Markets Choice Awards: Women in Finance category.
When the country went into shut down mode in mid-March due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Lerner was in the middle of preparing for a CNN International interview. “It was devastating, but you do what you need to do, and our entire team pivoted quickly. We immediately reached out to our network to make sure everything was in place for a smooth transition.”
As time marched on through Spring, Lerner and her team provided content and data analysis to their network. They participated in more than two dozen webinars and panels, including the NoCo Hemp Expo Earth Week Virtual Conference where Lerner advised hemp producers and farmers to be ready for the future, especially during the pandemic.
Echoing that sentiment, she says that message is still valid today, “The industry needs to be ready for the future because hope is not a strategy! I recommend that farmers, manufacturers, CBD producers, everyone – find your competitive edge, which will help you succeed in this rapidly evolving industry.”
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Heather Collins is an Account Manager for Compass Natural Marketing and has been working in communications and marketing in the natural products industry for the past twenty years. Compass Natural serves in PR and programming for NoCo Hemp Expo and Southern Hemp Expo. Collins serves as a Contributing Writer of the weekly Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, published by We are for Better Alternatives. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.