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No longer just for hippies: Is hemp the next coconut oil?

  • News
  • March 25, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
No longer just for hippies: Is hemp the next coconut oil?

The Naturally Good Expo, held over June 2 – 3 in Sydney, will bring retailers, brands and practitioners together to learn about all things healthy, organic and natural. Among the topics discussed by industry leaders at the expo is the recent legalisation of hemp – it’s popping up everywhere. We asked John Leith of supplier Hemp Oz and speaker Susan Tapper of Holistic Marketing Healthy Sales for more information about this exciting new product category.

Can you help our readers get their heads around the scale of the opportunity offered by hemp’s legalisation by comparing it to a previous food trend? (E.g. chia seeds).

Susan Tapper: Hemp has huge potential as the next ‘health-maximising-opportunity’. [Information from the US-based] Natural Products Expo West’s latest trends indicate plant-based products continue to grow, with ready-to-eat nutrition particularly [appealing] for Millennial mums, body-builders (weary of whey protein) and consumers shying away from animal-based ingredients. CBD or cannabidiol (hemp’s botanical extract) was the new product hot topic! 

Years ago, we saw high-omega flax and chia seeds hit mainstream and now considered million-dollar commodities in breads, desserts, smoothies and cereals. Last year probiotics were the rage and the year before, it was turmeric’s time in the spotlight. Hidden under layers of legislation since the late 1930s and the 70s ‘war on drugs’, hemp’s prohibition is nearly over!  

Hemp foods contain optimally balanced omega fatty acids, a high amount of plant-based protein and considered a complete protein. Hemp foods are now available on mainstream grocery shelves, in health and skincare retail and cafés/restaurants in burgers, biscuits, plant-based milk, snacks, bread, protein bars, smoothies, honey and all types of beverages. 

Hemp is sustainably grown and offers a plethora of uses as well as the perfect superfood. We can use hemp to make paper, textiles, building materials, paint, detergent, ink and fuel to name just a few. Hemp can grow in most climates with moderate water and fertilizer requirements, no pesticides nor herbicides and has enormous potential to become a major natural resource that benefits the economy and the environment. Hemp has many layers of economic benefit. 

I’m aware Australia and New Zealand will have differing regulatory environments, but can you share a little about the regulatory environment that’s recently delivered both countries the legalisation of hemp?

Susan Tapper: Hemp foods (seeds and protein) were made available in New Zealand from late 2018 and legally sold for human consumption, just a year after Australia legalised hemp foods in November 2017. The change in legislation followed by the Trans-Tasman food ministers changes to the ANZ Food Standards Code. NZ Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor acknowledged the 10-year campaign for this change and also, the potential for industrial hemp to benefit rural economies in NZ.  

The 2018 US Farm Bill helped propel hemp – not only in hemp agriculture, hemp foods, but also the potential with medical cannabis and CBD (the botanical extract of industrial hemp). Despite hemp food availability, the hemp flower, leaves, botanical extracts and medical cannabis are available only on prescription in NZ.  

What are some popular hemp product categories retailers should consider?

Susan Tapper:

  • Hemp snacks – energy or protein bars / biscuits 
  • Hemp beverages – tea / water /milk / shots
  • Body-builders/Athletes - protein powder /bars /drinks
  • Vegan/Vegetarian foods – staples – protein /flour / seeds / oil 
  • Skincare – for all skin types– clears oily pores, wonderful for dry skin issues such as dermatitis and is great for ageing skin

Do customers still get confused about the difference between hemp and marijuana?

Susan Tapper: Yes. Unfortunately over a century of misunderstanding between hemp, cannabis and marijuana has created legislative and consumer confusion. Actually, they are very different in function, cultivation and application.

  • Industrial hemp is grown for hemp seeds and fibre and grows tall with skinny leaves concentrated towards the top of the plant, with few branches and is taller than cannabis or marijuana.  Hemp contains a very low concentration of THC (0.3 percent or less).
  • Marijuana or medical cannabis plants feature broad leaves, dense buds and has a short bushy appearance. Cannabis or marijuana is abundant in THC with concentrations between 15 percent to 40 percent.  

Hemp is grown legally in just about every industrialised country except the USA. In New Zealand we can legally grow 12 varieties of industrial hemp. Hemp is known to have over 25,000 possible uses. Customers must be reassured there is no THC, no marijuana high, no medical cannabis in any hemp foods, oils or skincare.  

How should that distinction inform the way retailers market hemp products?

John Leith: Positive messages that educate the consumer about Hemp being perfectly legal, it’s superfood status and how it will benefit the consumer’s health is important to overcome any stigma. Hemp is a sustainable crop, grown organically without pesticides and with low water use, so it appeals to the environmentally-conscious consumer too.

CBD seems to be really taking off in the US, but it’s currently still prohibited in New Zealand. Do you think the consumer enthusiasm for this ingredient is coming from the same place as that for hemp?

Susan Tapper: CBD as an ingredient (not dietary supplement) is increasingly popular in many countries and US states that have legalised cannabis. Global awareness for CBD is growing and health claims entice new consumers.  

CBD contains cannabidiol and is a botanical extract from the hemp plant with no or very low THC (less than 0.3 percent) and is no longer a controlled drug in NZ.  The change to the control of CBD products is in response to advice the NZ Government received from the expert advisory committee on drugs.  Medical practitioners and pharmacies are allowed to import CBD products, as are persons or companies holding a licence to sell medicines by wholesale.   

Is CBD the next hemp?

John Leith: The worldwide focus on this is very encouraging, especially for the thousands of people who would benefit from CBD becoming widely available for medicinal use.  The change we have all been waiting for is to see CBD dropped as a scheduled drug by WHO (World Health Organisation) which is looking at this now for rescheduling. Whilst there is still much research to be carried out into this complex plant, one thing is for sure, the cannabis train has come into the station and it’s set to have a big impact.

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Foodstuffs’ Baden Ngan Kee has passed away

  • Who's Where
  • July 16, 2019
  • The Register team
Foodstuffs’ Baden Ngan Kee has passed away

Foodstuffs has announced that its former executive Baden Ngan Kee has passed away after a battle with lung cancer.

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2 Cheap Cars fined $438,000 under the Fair Trading Act

  • News
  • July 14, 2019
  • The Register team
2 Cheap Cars fined $438,000 under the Fair Trading Act

Used car dealer 2 Cheap Cars has been fined $438,000 for its use of “warranty waiver” documents and marketing statements described as “deliberately misleading”.

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Retail's new best friend

  • In association with the IHA Global Innovation Awards (GIA)
  • July 13, 2019
  • Anne Kong
Retail's new best friend

As the heart and soul of retailing further evolves, stores and the essence of shopping will continue to morph in unimaginable ways. However, amidst the storm of change, there is one aspect of shopping that remains pure, constant and motivational – the aspirational moment. Anne Kong, member of the GIA expert jury, shares her thoughts.

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Bendon looks to sell brands after financing falters

  • News
  • July 12, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Bendon looks to sell brands after financing falters

Bendon lingerie is looking to sell some of its brands as the future of the company becomes more uncertain.

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Smirnoff Pure helps Kiwis discover local artists with Spotify partnership

  • News
  • July 11, 2019
  • Caitlin Salter
Smirnoff Pure helps Kiwis discover local artists with Spotify partnership

The music we love is made up of many influences, including where we live. In its latest campaign, Smirnoff Pure and YoungShand tapped into the unique vibes of New Zealand and set out to help Kiwis discover the music that moves the cities and suburbs they call home.

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Outgoing Spark CEO Simon Moutter talks transformation, diversity and leaving a legacy beyond just metrics

  • News
  • July 11, 2019
  • Elly Strang
Outgoing Spark CEO Simon Moutter talks transformation, diversity and leaving a legacy beyond just metrics

Simon Moutter has just wrapped up a seven-year tenure at telecommunications company Spark. Under his rein, the changes the company has gone through are nothing short of radical, from its name (Telecom to Spark), to its operating model (traditional to agile), to its culture (publicly called out to inclusive) to its structure (one monopoly brand to many). Here, Moutter has a candid chat about his journey as CEO, the company's push to be a more diverse and inclusive workplace and how one of his biggest lessons learned was he couldn’t solve a cultural issue with processes and strategy.

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