Just days ago Ruth Schwager reported on an interview with Hemp Foods Australia chief executive officer Paul Benhaim for The Land on what a possible approval for hemp as a food product might mean for the Australian hemp industry.
When the Council of Australian Governments meets in 2017, legislations regarding hemp products as food are set to go before the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation. This is the culmination of a 16-year effort to have hemp approved for human consumption in Australia and if it is approved, should provide a significant boost to the domestic hemp industry according to Hemp Foods Australia CEO Paul Benhaim.
It is currently legal to grow, manufacturer, and export hemp food products in Australia but hemp is only legal for distribution in Australia for use in cosmetics or fibres. Benhaim knows the value of hemp in the food market since Hemp Foods Australia currently exports hemp foods to the blossoming North American and Asian hemp markets.
“The biggest market for hemp is the food market, and once we’ve got approval we can encourage more farmers to grow hemp,” Mr Benhaim said.
Benhaim hopes to assist more farmers in jointing the organic hemp industry if the measure passes and in turn increase acreage of hemp grown across the country. About 400 hectares of hemp were harvested in the eastern states last year but the current demand, specifically for hemp seeds, outweighs the supply. As Benhaim explained, “The seeds contain 50 to 75 per cent more protein than chia or flax and hemp also contains more omega oils than any other food. The seeds are very versatile. You can eat them as a snack or use them in recipes.”
On top of the health aspect of hemp, Hemp Foods Australia remains focused on hempmade fibres and eventually hopes to build more production sites for bioplastics that can be used in the automotive and building industries. The versatility of the plant is what gives backing to the Hemp Foods Australia CEO’s claims that these possible legislations could rapidly expand the Australian and New Zealand hemp industries. The industry can continue to grow where it currently thrives, in fibres and cosmetics, while it also expands to new arenas like the health food industry.