Europe’s Industrial Hemp Industry Powers Ahead

Industrial hemp in Europe
Image: BigStock

Hemp cultivation areas in Europe will expand to almost 25,000 ha in 2016 says the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA).

The increase is up from just 8,000 ha in 2011, so triple in just 5 years.

The expansion has been primarily driven by demand for fibre products from the automotive and specialty paper sector, plus for hemp seeds and cannabidiol (CBD) from the health food sector.

Industrial hemp is used in natural fibre composites (NFC) due to its light weight and strength, with applications in reinforcing of automotive interior parts.

Much of this hemp  has been sourced from Asia in the past, but availability is now limited due to local competition with food crops and temporary export bans. The EIHA says European hemp fibres can meet increasing demand; assuming requirements are communicated before sowing time in March.

The Association says hemp food products entered the mainstream market last year and many well-known brands in Europe now offer products based on hemp seed; often touted as a superfood.

“Hemp seed is a nutritional powerhouse and is highly digestible. Its oil has an excellent fatty acid spectrum, it has the “almost perfect” balance of the omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids plus the presence of two ‘higher’ omega-3 and -6 fatty acids; stearidonic acid (SDA) and gamma linoleic acid (GLA). The share of unsaturated fatty acids is incredible 90%,” says EIHA.

“The protein includes all 21 amino acids providing minerals, Vitamin E and is high in dietary fibre. ” (sic)

The EIHA will be hosting the largest conference on industrial hemp globally on 1st and 2nd of June 2016.  The 13th International Conference of the European Industrial Hemp Association  will take place in Wesseling, near Cologne (Germany). More than 250 participants from 40 different countries as well as 30 exhibitors are expected.

The conference will focus on the latest developments concerning industrial hemp and other natural fibres; as well as hemp seeds, oil, proteins and pharmaceuticals. There will also be a workshop on sustainability; with Dr. Stephan Piotrowski and Martha Barth, both of nova-Institut GmbH (Germany), discussing sustainability implications of hemp value chains.

EIHA has 13 regular members (hemp processors) and more than 120 associate members.