Developing Markets for Hemp Seeds!

Developing Markets for Hemp Seeds!
Posted by FoM on August 04, 1999 at 15:24:04 PT
by John W. Roulac
Source: Hemptech
"Increasingly, hemp seed will replace beans, nuts, grain, and dairy products in numerous foods. By successfully meeting the challenges mentioned above, hemp seeds and their oil may well become a main staple for the expanding natural-foods industry."
Pubdate:July 1999 Issue - The growing awareness of hemp and the nutritional benefits of hemp seed is driving sales of hemp foods and body care products. The strongest demand is for hulled seed and oil. Until recently, these raw materials have been priced as boutique items  i.e. quite expensive with limited distribution and low sales volumes. Supply: Canadian warehouses are still filled with hemp seeds from the 1998 crop. In 1999, Canadian farmers planted approximately 20,000 acres dedicated for grain or hemp seed. This may well lead to a new term for the fledgling hemp industry  long term storage trials. It will be interesting to watch how this huge increase in supply impacts market prices and demand. One of the significant challenges and opportunities for hemp farmers and the hemp industry in general is to avoid entering into the below production cost model of wheat, corn and soybeans. Clearly, decentralised regional processors and farmer co-ops need to add value thus increasing profitability. One likely change in year 2000 plantings will be a greater ratio of certified organic hemp seed vs. non-organic. Demand for organic food is skyrocketing in North America. Hanf Nut: Much of the success of the North American hemp industry is due to the pioneering efforts of German hemp advocates and entrepreneurs. In 1996/97, several pioneering German companies developed a process to shell the hemp seed, yielding "Hanfnuss", or hemp nut in English. Several firms, including an American one, private labelled hemp nut and imported it into America. The advent of hulled hemp seeds from Germany has been opening up vast applications for the food industry. These tasty nuts are now appearing in nutritional bars, nut butters, pretzels, cookies, yoghurts and in bulk refrigerated sections as well as grocery shelves packed in tin cans. In early 1999, Kenex of Pain Court, Ontario set up the first dehulling facility in Canada. Several firms have now followed,including CGP. Hemp Oil: Hemp oil is now found increasingly in the refrigerated section in natural food stores. Natural oil suppliers targeting the body care industry offer oil by the pail and drum. Almost daily I now hear of some new company that is manufacturing hemp-based soaps, shampoos, lotions, salves or creams. The huge success of the Body Shop's hemp line points to increasing acceptance in the mainstream marketplace. Hemp pioneer Hempola, of Mississauga, Ontario, introduced a delicious hemp salad dressing at the March 1999 Anaheim Natural Products Expo show. Education: The key to increasing markets for hemp seed is educating people on the benefits of hemp and expanding the market versus just dumping seed on the marketplace and hoping that price alone will carry the day. Our industry's initial efforts have helped to build a small yet growing base of informed consumers and manufacturers. For example, the North American Industrial Hemp Council (NAIHC) has exhibited at the last two Natural Products Expo shows in Anaheim and Baltimore to promote hemp and its member firms. This has allowed thousands of natural food retailers, manufacturers, distributors and media to learn about hemp's unique benefits. NAIHC sponsored its first annual hemp foods banquet at its November 1998 Washington DC annual conference and trade show. A delicious hemp foods meal was prepared by the Crown Plaza's kitchen under the guidance of Richard Rose of the HempNut Corporation. I personally enjoyed listening to Ralph Nader crack jokes about US federal policy on hemp while sitting next to former CIA Director James Woolsey who was laughing between mouthfuls of a tasty hemp meal topped off with hemp chocolate. In late 1998, Kenex approached HEMPTECH  the Sebastopol, CA based Industrial Hemp Information Network  to assist them in expanding markets for hemp seeds in the United States. We were honoured at the opportunity to work with one of Canada's leading pioneering hemp firms. In March 1999, HEMPTECH launched with a mission to expand markets for hemp seed products. Our initial market research of manufacturers and restaurants indicated that the previously high price for hulled seeds was prohibitive and that lower prices would encourage greater use. We set up a refrigerated distribution center in LA County (California) and stocked a range of hemp seed products including hulled, oil, meal, toasted and roasted seeds. In a few short months we are now selling in bulk to dozens of natural food stores, restaurants and supplying manufacturers of beer, beverages, nut butters and body and Kenex also gave out over 800 copies of Hemp Foods & Oil for Health: Your Guide to Cooking,Nutrition and Body Care by Gero Leson, Petra Pless with John W. Roulac to the Natural Product Expo attendees. We are also sending out 100+ copies each week to health food stores as part of our marketing campaign. We also launched a consumer brand  Nutiva  with a snack bar made from four seeds  sunflower, hulled hempseeds, flax, pumpkin  plus honey. The response to these bars has been quite positive. Sales have surpassed 30,000 in the first 100 days. We currently sell to 500+ natural food stores, gas stations and even supermarkets. We expect to surpass 100,000 bar sales before the end of summer and 1,000,000 in year 2000. Our Nutiva bar is now the number one selling North American hemp foods product based on sales unit. GMO Hemp? While genetically modified organisms (GMO) have been a huge issue in Britain and throughout Europe, it has been relatively ignored for the most part in North America. The majority of corn and soybeans today are grown with GMO seeds. The recent study on Monarch butterflies has intensified the GMO debate. This Cornell University study showed that Monarch butterflies are dying by eating insects which had been feeding from Monsanto bio engineered corn containing BT genes. Growing numbers of American consumers and manufacturers are re-evaluating their use of GMO products, especially soy products. This development will accelerate the opportunity of non-GMO hemp as an eco-friendly food source. Of course, larger Ag firms entering the hemp field may well develop GMO hemp. The GMO issue is moving center stage as consumers become educated and the pressure builds to label GMO foods. Non-GMO hemp foods may just be the horse to bet on! The following is excerpted from "Hemp Foods & Oil For Health" by Leson & Pless with Roulac: The Future of Hemp Foods" Hemp foods must meet a few challenges before they can expand beyond their current niches. To start with, the price of hemp seeds and their products will gradually have to come down. This will be accomplished by increasing sales volumes and the resulting economies of scale in farming, processing, and distribution. More efficient processing and marketing of hemp fibres and hurds will also be crucial, so that farmers can reduce the cost of seeds." "Improving the properties of hemp seeds through breeding will make them more competitive in several areas. Larger seeds will improve the efficiency of the hulling process, thus making hulled seeds more cost-competitive. Breeding varieties for a higher content of specific fatty acids such as GLA will make hemp oil more competitive as a food supplement, while raising the antioxidant levels in hemp seeds will increase the shelf life of hemp oil and foods. Finally, more hemp seed research is needed in such areas as additional potential health benefits, the nature and effects of phytosterols, and the amino acid spectrum of different varieties." "Increasingly, hemp seed will replace beans, nuts, grain, and dairy products in numerous foods. By successfully meeting the challenges mentioned above, hemp seeds and their oil may well become a main staple for the expanding natural-foods industry." John W. Roulac serves as board secretary to the North American Industrial Hemp Council ( and is president/founder of Sebastopol, CA based HEMPTECH (, The Industrial Hemp Information Network,and, a hemp seed marketing firm. He can be reached at john or 707-823-2800 ext. *41. The above article was excerpted from the HCFR.For more details contact Arthur Hanksarthurhanks Hemp Farming & Commerce Report Issue # 3 - July 25, 1999
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Comment #1 posted by Gordon Sellar on June 29, 2000 at 05:39:28 PT:
storage - devitalised hempseed
can you possible supply any information regarding optimum packaging/storage/moisture contents of devitalized hempseed?Also can you advise technically, difference between terms "devitalized" v. "sterilized" v. product with "zero germination rating"? I'd appreciate any assistance in regards to these aspects...I am employed by a Co. who have recently attained a licence to Devitalize Hempseed..and want to improve my own understanding of the product.Thankyou.Address: 661 East Place, Saskatoon, Sask. S7J 2Z1Tel:306-374-3968(Home)or Tel:306-242-4950ex.4Fax3062424213
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