HFA Backgrounder

Hemp food has long been carrying the hemp industry on its shoulders. It is the only proven stable hemp revenue stream in North America (besides law), the only one that’s 100% legal, and with more technical innovation and discoveries in the last 3 years than the first 20.

That’s what makes it such an attractive bargaining chip for those with no skin in the hemp food game, such as pushing max THC down 300 times, from the current Congressionally-mandated 0.3% to match Canada’s 0.001%, in order to get marijuana federally legal in Sens. Booker, Schumer, and Wyden’s “Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act” (CAOA).

To be credible, hempseed standards need to be promulgated by the hempseed industry, not the marijuana or even the general hemp industry. It’s very technical and the Dunning-Kruger Effect is especially strong in hemp.

While achieving 0.001% is possible, we need something in return such as the right to call compliant foods “THC-free” without qualification. Much like how “fat-free” products can contain 0.5 gram of fat per serving and “alcohol-free” products can contain 0.5% of the compounds they are “free” of, a 500 times greater limit than 0.001%. Grants from USDA and NIFA would also be helpful, currently they seemingly go to everything but seed for food.

The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended.” But even worse is not being defended at all.

The Hemp Food Association is literally the only hemp association in existence the last 24 years to serve this important segment. It’s a resource to help hemp companies and entrepreneurs succeed. Breaking News has hempseed research and science as it is published, four dozen are there right now. The dozens of original Articles are filled with information pertaining to hemp food, for both consumers and entrepreneurs. The 15 free downloads are invaluable for the starting and management of a hemp food company. The Directory has over 100 companies on it. I was looking at Breaking News the other day and realized there were new companies to be made from at least two of the studies. And it’s all free.

HFA will also promote and advocate for hemp food companies, be a cheerleader. That’s why consumers are encouraged to join, there’s strength in numbers. Today, food from the seed is a narrow niche even within the greater hemp food industry, as the Next New Thing is hemp cannabinoid foods as delivery systems for CBD and delta-8/9/10 THC. However, those are not yet legal to FDA, unlike foods from hempseed, and fraught with issues besides. There are many foods that can be made from the Cannabis plant, but we focus specifically on the seed as the source, not the inflorescences or their cannabinoids.

Even within the larger hemp industry, hemp foods are overlooked on social and digital media. Fiber products are all the rage, as are biofuels and other distant ideas needing much work and capital to actually commercialize economically. CBD appears to have been boom then bust, still illegal to FDA. But food from seed is here and now, at least $100 million dollars annually. Even then, it’s the narrowest piece of a small segment (hemp) of a stigmatized industry (Cannabis). We need to celebrate our wins, it’s like oxygen for Movements, and there is no bigger win in hemp today than food.

Industry size is difficult to estimate because it’s quite large, I have my list of over 120 hemp food companies globally (seed foods only) and it’s far from complete. The segment is a mixture of companies, with products from 0.01% hemp (energy drinks) to ~500% hemp (it takes ~5 pounds of whole seed to get 1 of oil). Then there’s the vast range of prices, high retail vs low farm-gate, and the commensurate range in profit margins from none to fat.

If you’re wondering about the statement “billion-dollar segment,” take the $417 million sale price of Manitoba Harvest to Tilray divided by its market share percentage to arrive at over a billion; that values the segment overall. Also, since primary hempseed for food (shelled) and secondary hempseed food (Nature’s Path) started in Canada in 1998, there’s been a billion dollars worth of hempseed sold. Take your pick, either way it’s “hemp’s first billion-dollar industry” in the modern era.

Effective advocacy organizations start with one person and a vision, not a lawyer and a bank account and the IRS in a high-rise boardroom. My goal is to pass on the legacy of my hemp food vision to the next generation. The need for such an association today is great, and grew by the day.

Few had the time to do it, fewer had the ability to do it, fewer had the credibility, and fewer yet had the legacy of having already done it back in 1998. It’s not like I’m charging money and it’s not like I don’t have anything to do otherwise, but it had to be done. Since no one else did, I didn’t have much choice; being retired I got the time, experience, and chops to contribute.

Hemp’s biggest success story deserves a cheerleader; feeding people is a noble act. The way to a nation’s heart is through its stomach; foods are a worthy ambassador for hemp.

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