The hemp seed is legal for consumption after decades of prohibition, opening up the floodgates for health food companies to utilise this nutritious ingredient.
On Sunday 12 November, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) passed legislation for hemp to be consumed as food in Australia.
Australia and New Zealand were the only remaining nations to legalise the plant-based product for consumption, with countries like Japan, Germany, and Canada already leading the way.
Here are some of the local companies taking advantage of the ban lift with their hemp seed-based ranges.
Wild world domination
One company to capitalise on the new legislation is The Wild Food Group, a supplier of a healthy cereal called Hempnola.
Hempnola is first-to-market with cereals containing hemp seeds, and the company is widely promoting its health benefits.
Founded by Melisa Alizzi and Romana Camillo, The Wild supplies custom blends across a range of dry food categories, including cereals, powders, and fruit and nut trail mixes.
A hemp-tastic brew
East 9th Brewing launched Australia’s first hemp beer in November following the ban lift.
The new brew, Doss Blockos Hempire Hemp Ale, is only sold on tap, and the certified organic ground hemp seeds are used after fermentation to provide a “unique nuttiness and soft creaminess” to the flavour.
The brew was introduced to the on-premise market as a “delicious and refreshing session ale” that is “deliberately low in bitterness to highlight the unique hemp characteristics”.
Seeds are sprouting
Paul Benhaim, chief executive of Hemp Foods Australia, which had previously only sold “external use only” products in Australia, was jumping for joy over the news. He had been lobbying governments to legalise hemp seeds for food for 17 years.
He expects his business, which dominates 80 per cent of the domestic market, to quadruple in the next year. He has been selling hemp oil as a moisturiser, but is now able to market it as food.
Benhaim says his mission has been to educate people that hemp is not a drug – it’s actually a tasty, healthy food that contains EFAs and protein.
“After educating them, I wanted to provide high-quality hemp seeds to as many people as possible,” he says.
“Now we’re really on the cusp of growing, so we expect in the next few years to grow even more, and with the legislative changes, we’re expecting to focus on the Australian market.”