Industrial Hemp – Food And Pharmaceutical Outlook

Industrial hemp EU market potential
Images: BigStock

Two recently released market studies look at the potential for industrial hemp sourced food and pharmaceutical products in the European Union.

The reports are from Germany’s nova-Institute, which collaborated with another German company, HempConsult. They state  industrial hemp cultivation in the EU grew from just 8,000 hectares in 2011 to 25,000 ha last year. The growth was mainly due to increased demand for food products, nutritional supplements and pharmaceuticals rather than for fiber.

It’s becoming increasingly common knowledge that hemp seeds are high in beneficial fatty acids and proteins. In fact, it may turn out that hemp seed oil could be better than olive oil for the heart.

What isn’t so widely known is that industrial hemp can also produce commercially viable levels of cannabidiol (CBD); a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that is being researched for treatment of a variety of conditions including MS and epilepsy.

The nova-Institute report states a double digit growth rate is expected for industrial hemp sourced foods.

“A hemp seed market potential linked to a penetration of 5% of the European nut market would signify an added market value of € 1 billion/year,” it states; but cautioning two major challenges are holding back growth – government legislation and lack of consumer awareness.

In the second report, “Market Study on Cannabidiol (CBD)”, nova-Institute predicts an upper market potential in Europe of € 2 billion if CBD is utilised as a medicine for chronic diseases. As an over-the-counter medicine, the Institute believes CBD has a minimum market penetration potential of € 24 million.

“The gap between upper and lower market potentials can be reduced by more consumer information, investments in research to support initial medical claims and adoption of the necessary legal provisions, as seems to be the current trend.”

nova-Institute says both market studies will be presented at the 13th International Conference of the European Industrial Hemp Association, which is occurring 1-2 June 2016, in Wesseling near Cologne (Germany). Hundreds of hemp experts from all over the world are expected to attend the conference.

There’s little doubt that industrial hemp and medical cannabis in their various forms will once again be very big (and legal) business all over the world. A report released in February predicts medical marijuana sales in the USA alone could exceed USD $10 billion in 2020.