Paul Benhaim, CEO of Hemp Foods Australia, was interviewed by Byron Shire News this month to talk about the bright future for hemp in Australia and how his company aims to get local farmers in on the success.
Aside from their continued lobbying for Australia to allow hemp for sale as a food product in the country, Benhaim and the team at Hemp Foods Australia are also dead set on expanding their industry in the existing beauty and industrial sectors. They are very close to launching cosmetic line Sativa, “the world’s first certified organic hemp extract skin care range.”
With confidence in growth, Hemp Foods AUS has recently invested in new processing machinery that cost around half of a million dollars to produce certified organic hemp seeds, hemp flour, hemp seed oil, and hemp protein. The export demand for these products has outweighed the supply for some time, which is why Hemp Foods, with Benhaim at the helm, have been working hard reaching out to local farmers.
In the beginning Benhaim says that outreach was difficult. But most farmers just needed to be educated on the fact that this plant was legal and differed from cannabis plants which have psychoactive effects. Eventually they were successful in helping tons of small Australian farmers acquire organic certification and learn how to rotate hemp into their crop rotation.
"In 2017 we expect to be growing $15.5m worth of hemp food products direct from Australian certified organic farmers - maybe a 30% step-up in total revenue from sales, but in terms of local Australian farming it's a much bigger increase.
"We're very excited about that and it's big news because we have a four-year plan that will make Australia the largest single exporter of certified organic hemp grain in the world.”
Paul Benhaim hopes that by April Australia will have lifted the ban on hemp seeds as food and Australians will be able to enjoy the vast health benefits provided by these products. When this inevitably happens, Benhaim is confident that Australia’s demand for hemp will only increase. He also foresees Australia being the world leader in industrial hemp production but as always, "Our focus is on supporting the good old Australian farmer."