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The super-food storming the market

Hemp Foods Australia is presenting the market with an alternative source of proteins and ‘good oils’ normally found in more common products.

Hemp Foods Australia is presenting the market with an alternative source of proteins and ‘good oils’ normally found in more common products like meat and fish oil, to growing success. Adam McCleery writes.

As consumers continue to become nutrients your body can’t produce on its more conscious of the foods they eat, food and beverage manufacturers have had to ensure they keep up with the growing and shifting demands.

Hemp-based products have become a segment of the market that has experienced growth in popularity off the back of shifting consumer wants and needs, and better education around its benefits.

Felipe Favaro, general manager at Hemp Foods Australia, a subsidiary of Elixinol Wellness, said the health benefits associated with hemp are obvious.

“The hemp seeds are highly nutritious so once they are dehulled they have roughly 30 to 33 per cent protein content and around 45 per cent good oils, like Omega-3, 6, and Iron. If you add that together we are talking about 75 to 80 per cent of two key macro ingredients that your body needs to consume regularly,” he said.

“On the protein side of things, the hemp has all the essential amino acids, all the essential mineral acids, and these are own, it must come through the diet.”

As a result, hemp-based products have the benefit of being appropriate for most, if not all, diets. Opening a huge segment of the market.

“For vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, or people who just want to reduce their meat consumption, everyone can look at hemp-based products as a good source of their protein,” Favaro added.

“Hemp ticks all the boxes. On top of this, it is hypoallergenic, meaning there are no known allergies to that source of protein.”

And the same, Favaro said, is true of the essential good oils.

Felipe Favaro, general manager at Hemp Foods Australia, said the health benefits of hemp products are numerous.
Felipe Favaro, general manager at Hemp Foods Australia, said the health benefits of hemp products are numerous.

“Fish oil is popular because of the Omega-3’s that are present,” he said.

“Hemp is an alternative to fish oil where you can intake different kinds of Omega-3’s before your body does the transformation to the more well-known Omega-3’s.”

Favaro said the strong nutritional value of hemps-based products is the key selling benefits, along with the ling list of other micronutrients present.

“There are also micronutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, hemp seed is very rich in all those important micronutrients,” he said.

“It adds to the value of the product because it tailors to so many people. For example, if someone has an iron deficiency.

“On top of that, it is low in sugar. There are no added sugars and only six per cent carbohydrates. It really does tick the boxes for so many different diets and diet requirements. It really is a super food.”

The ease of production is another area where Hemp Foods Australia benefits from its core ingredients.

The turnaround time for a hemp crop is very short, as is the production process itself, comparatively speaking.

“It’s a minimal process,” said Favaro.

“It’s similar to the macadamia nut where we remove the outer shell and then it is as nature intended it should be. There is no chemical processing or anything like that, which is another positive selling point.”

Meanwhile, Hemp Foods Australia recently secured and expanded national distribution deal with Woolworths which will see its Organic Hemp Gold Seed Oil go from being in 100 stores, to 948. Presenting a clear example of the growing popularity of the sector.

“This new national distribution deal with Woolworths is recognition of both the quality of our organic Hemp Gold Seed Oil and the increased demand for our superior quality, certified organic hemp food products from supermarket shoppers,” said Favaro.

“We are excited that many more people across the country will now be able to enjoy the taste and health benefits of our oil.”

Favaro said the growing popularity of hemp-based products will continue to present exciting opportunities for Hemp Foods Australia.

“Our aim is to deliver the most premium, nutritional products possible to make Australians healthier, inside and out,” he said.

“Hemp Foods Australia exists to make a positive difference to people, communities and the planet.”

Being named a Regional Finalist in the 2022 Northern Rivers Regional Business Awards for the Excellence in Innovation category was another acknowledgement of the great work Hemp Foods Australia was doing with its continued growth in the market.

However, it wasn’t always so easy for the company after it launched in 1999. Since then, Hemp Foods Australia has had to overcome the stigma which existed, and to some extent still exists, around hemp.

“We have enough farmers for existing demand after things really kicked off in 2011,” said Favaro.

“Interestingly, at that point hemp wasn’t even legal here as a food here so it was hard to get farmers, which meant we had to import from overseas.

“To help us with breaking down the stigma associated with hemp and to show that it was a safe and nutritious product, we decided to go for a certified organic product because the ACO logo is well recognised and people value what it means, and they trust it.”

“We knew that would be good for us to help break the stigma with hemp.”

Sourcing from overseas also had the added benefit of tapping into an extensive history of hemp cultivation.

“Those certified organic farmers have been growing hemp for a very long time and because of that they have a higher yield,” said Favaro.

“And because of this they compete well with other crops, we are still a little way away from having certified organic Australian grown hemp, but that is mainly because of cost.”

Hemp seeds can contain up to 45 per cent ‘good oils’ including Omega-3.
Hemp seeds can contain up to 45 per cent ‘good oils’ including Omega-3.

The quick turnaround time of a hemp crop is another key selling point to farmers, and a benefit to manufacturers like Hemp Food Australia when it comes to keeping up with demand.

“From a farming perspective, it’s anywhere between 90 and 100 days to grow and harvest the crop,” said Favaro.\

“This means it works well as an in between crop, which works particularly well for farmers on a rotational system. “We have two product lines; one is 100 per cent Australian grown on a conventional grade product and we have caught up with the supply and demand on that one.”

Favaro said Hemp Foods Australia will continue to grow off the back of greater awareness around the benefits of hemp, and the growth of global hemp production.

“Our aim as a company is to make a positive difference to people, communities, and planets. The way we do this is by bringing delicious, nutritious, healthy, and sustainable food products to consumers,” he added.

A key innovation from the company came last year after working closely with an industry partner.

“It is a range of functional seed mixes with hemp, fruits, seeds, and nuts,” said Favaro.

“Two years ago, we also worked without partner to do an improved version of two of our three existing products, the hemp seed oil.

“Previously we were extracting the oil from the whole hemp seed but what we started doing is extracting from the dehulled seed which produces a clearer oil with a lighter taste and colour without losing any nutritional properties.”

It’s an exciting period for hemp-based production and the future continues to look bright for the sector.

To meet the growing consumer trend and increasing interest in plant-based foods and hemp products, Hemp Foods Australia will continue to launch innovative new food products throughout 2023.

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