|As scores of leading American companies that make and sell a wide variety of consumer and manufacturing components made from hemp seed, oil and fiber meet in San Francisco November 3-4, new market research shows that many of these companies are experiencing strong growth in sales. The hemp retail sales figures to be presented at the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) annual meeting demonstrate that retail sales of hemp foods and body care made from hemp seed and oil continued their explosive growth and are fueling a major expansion in Canadian hemp farming.|
The data on annual retail sales of hemp food compiled by Leson & Associates shows a 50 percent increase, from an estimated $8 million during the 12-months reference period in 2003/04 to almost $12 million in 2004/05. During the same period, retail sales of hemp body care products grew by 15 percent from $35 million to about $40 million in 2004/05. Market wide data on the much larger sales of hemp fiber-based products such as clothing, paper and auto parts was not part of this new research, but should be available next year.
The increasing consumer demand for hemp seed for food and body care continues to drive growth in hemp acreage in Canada, the main supplier of hemp seed products to the U.S. According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), the trade association representing all sectors of the Canadian hemp industry, Canadian farmers planted over 24,000 acres of hemp in 2005. This is almost triple the 2004 acreage and 6 times the 2002 acreage of about 4,000 acres. Canadian farmers are reporting net profits of $200 to $250 per acre and are very pleased to have a successful alternative crop.
"Hemp food sales grew 50 percent last year but it didn't result in one single acre of industrial hemp being grown here in the United States because of the Drug Enforcement Adminstration's refusal to recognize hemp as distinct from marijuana," said Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra. "Hemp is the only crop legal to import to the United States yet illegal to grow. We have been saying for years that American farmers are being left out of this cash crop and this latest research is proof that the federal law banning hemp farming is outdated, irrational and hurting American farmers."
Some members of Congress are trying to change the federal ban to allow states to regulate hemp farming. This summer H.R. 3037, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005 was introduced but has yet to get a hearing and is unlikely to become law this year. Currently fourteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation.
Greater demand for natural products and organic foods has encouraged new products made with hemp including auto parts such as car door panels, tree free paper, clothing and nutritious foods. In 2004 the HIA won a three year long court battle against the Drug Enforcement Administration to protect sales of hemp foods in the United States. "Removing the cloud the DEA put on the hemp food marketplace spurred a surge in the supply and consumption of healthy omega-3-rich hemp seed in America," says David Bronner, Chair of the HIA's Food and Oil Committee and President of Alpsnack/Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "Sales of hemp foods are protected, but U.S. farmers won't benefit without Congress taking action to fix the law."