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Australian hemp start-up Hemp Oz has expanded its presence in the health beverage industry, launching the first hemp kombucha to the market.

A subsidiary of Oz Medicann Group, Hemp Oz is based in Sydney and provides organic natural products, including food, beverages and oils, all made in Australia with Australian ingredients.

Hemp Oz founder and CEO John Leith told Food & Drink Business the Hemp Oz Kombucha follows traditional, hand-crafted production methods with the addition of hemp, which is rich in fatty acids and nutrients, and provides a number of health benefits.

“When laws changed in 2017 to allow hemp seeds to be sold as food in Australia, we were proud to produce Australia’s first hemp kombucha, to give consumers a deliciously refreshing beverage with maximum health benefits,” said Leith. Leith says it helps him manage his Type 2 diabetes.

“Along with the inclusion of the superfood ingredient hemp, our superior packaging is a massive differentiator for our brand as other Kombucha claim to have live cultures but do not require refrigeration, which compromises the benefits of the ingredients.”

Eight market players 

According to Leith, there are around eight major competitors in the hemp-based food and beverage industry. Products include hemp seeds, oil, protein power, milk and kombucha.

The legalisation of hemp as a food source makes it important for Hemp Oz to create a brand deeply committed to the hemp and medicinal cannabis industry, Leith says.

The next major challenge is to educate consumers hemp is healthy for you and not a drug, he says.

“We need to invest considerably with the message hemp is ‘all health, no high’.

"Social media platforms still block any advertising with the word hemp so promoting our brand and products is a challenge. The banks were also very concerned with hemp (confusing it with the illegal drug), and processing online sales was a hurdle we needed to overcome too.

"Thankfully, the confusion and stigma are receding as more people learn the truth that hemp as one of the world’s most nutritionally-perfect superfoods.”

The company is partnering with universities and the food and beverage industry to research the future of hemp in Australia.

Five cents from every Hemp Oz Kombucha sale is donated to advocacy for patient access to medicinal cannabis.

Hemp Oz products are available through 250 retail stockists, food and beverage outlets and restaurants across the country.

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