Photo: Mark Wemple
Southwest Florida Roundup
Squeeze Play: Tampa Company Uses Its Presses to Squeeze Marijuana
Legal marijuana creates another business line for Vincent Corp.
In the 1930s, the first of Vincent Corp.’s screw presses helped make cattle feed by squeezing liquid from peels left over after making orange juice. The presses today do much the same job — squeezing just about anything nearly dry — but the materials they press have evolved well beyond citrus waste.
During the last few years, for example, Tampa-based Vincent has supplied nearly 200 presses to companies processing eggshells. After the shells go through the press, workers collect liquid albumen, a pure protein, that’s used in the animal feed industry.
“Walk down just about any aisle in the grocery store and you will see our customers,” says Fred White, a Vincent engineer. “Culled waste from producers of bagged salad. Orange juice. Paper products. Plastics. Eggs. Baby food. Frozen fried potato products. Frozen fried chicken nuggets. Corn sweeteners used in all colas. Corn oil ... instant coffee.”
The latest use — marijuana.
“Changing marijuana laws have opened up a significant market,” says Bob Johnston, the company’s president and senior engineer. “These are very small machines, weighing only 400 pounds. It turns out that this is an ideal size for extracting the oils from hemp. The dried marijuana is soaked in alcohol or hexane and then run through the press. The oils come out with the solvent and then later are recovered in a distillation process. This produces either the medicinal CBD or the addictive THC, depending on the type of hemp being processed. Presses for this application are being sent to California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, but, so far, none are being used in Florida.”