14 Januar 2019

TOP Industrial hemp becomes the world’s billion-dollar business

Worldwide largest conference on industrial hemp in June 2019 in Cologne (Germany)

Join the global meeting place of the fast growing hemp industry in Cologne on 5 – 6 June at the “16th EIHA Hemp Conference”. For the second time, participants will vote for the “Hemp Product of the Year”.

Last year, industrial hemp showed record cultivation figures in Europe, Canada and China. In addition, cultivation has begun in the USA. The highest growth in demand comes from the food sector, food additives and pharmaceuticals. But hemp fibres are also increasingly being sold to the automotive and construction industries. The turnover in the industrial hemp sector has meanwhile reached new dimensions, with numerous new companies getting listed on the stock exchange. The conference is expected to attract 400 participants from 50 countries.

Industrial hemp in Europe

For a long time, the hemp cultivation in Europe was on decline, and only in France it was continuously practiced. The reintroduction of industrial hemp started in Great Britain in 1990, a few years later it also took place in the Netherlands and Germany and finally all throughout Europe. During the brief hype in the 1990s, the area under cultivation rose to 20,000 ha and then fell back to around 8,000 ha in 2011. Only afterwards, the industrial hemp industry really started. After 26,000 ha in 2015 and 33,000 ha in 2016, the area under cultivation rose to around 47,000 ha in the year 2017.

Hemp food

The growing areas are mainly driven by demand in the food sector. The healthy cannabis seeds have arrived in the mainstream and can be found today in almost all European supermarkets, either pure, in muesli, in chocolate or many other products. Like soya, hemp seeds can be processed into drinks and yoghurts. Oil pressing leaves a protein-containing press cake from which proteins for athletes are extracted. Currently, there is no end in sight to the rising demand.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

A further upswing came with the market launch of the non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), which has mildly calming and focussing effects in low doses, and also medical effects in higher doses. It is extracted from the leaves and flowers of hemp and is used, for example, as a food supplement and in e-cigarettes. Here, too, the demand is high, but cannot be sufficiently met due to a patchwork of national regulations. While discounters successfully sell CBD cigarettes in Switzerland, concentrated CBD is a prescription drug in other EU countries. So far, there are no uniform legal regulations in Europe.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is approved as a drug in virtually all European countries and is commercially produced by the pharmaceutical industry in greenhouses. Strong growth has also been recorded here. As of November 2018, an estimated 40,000 patients had been prescribed marijuana in Germany. The industry estimates that number could eventually climb to 1 million, and to 5 million total across the EU. With the annual cost of therapy between €4,500 and €30,000, it’s potentially a multibillion-euro market. Experts predict the German market will reach as much as €6 billion in sales over the next 10 years. (https://www.handelsblatt.com/today/companies/cannabis-why-cant-germany-get-its-medical-marijuana-industry-going/)

Fibres and shives

Finally, hemp fibres are used in large quantities for lightweight construction in the automotive industry (e.g. door linings), in insulating materials and for thin, tear-resistant papers (e.g. cigarettes and bible papers). The shives, the inner part of the stem, are used as building material and animal litter.

Developments outside Europe

But not only in Europe useful hemp enjoys considerable demand again. In Canada, a dynamic hemp food industry with steady growth emerged even ahead of Europe. In 2016, 34,000 ha of hemp were cultivated in Canada and in 2017 a new record was achieved with 56,000 ha. In 2018, the cultivation of useful hemp also began in the USA, where an additional 50,000 ha of industrial hemp cultivation are expected in the next ten years.
Furthermore, in China, the mother country of hemp, the plant is reintroduced mainly for the textile industry in order to relieve cotton production and potentially even replace it later. In the northeast of China there are large programs to introduce enzymatically opened hemp fibres into the textile industry. The Chinese automotive industry also uses hemp fibres in lightweight construction. The total area under cultivation in China has risen from 40,000 ha (2016) to 47,000 ha (2017).

Hemp industry worldwide: Cultivation area and market value

Hemp had almost completely disappeared in the aftermath of the Second World War, but despite the worldwide prohibition of cannabis as a crop plant, in 2018 Canada, China and the European Union cultivated a total of 150,000 ha again – in only a few decades, hemp cultivation could exceed the million hectares, and hemp could become an important crop plant again.
According to the European Industrial Hemp Association, the hemp sector, especially the business with hemp extracts, has grown rapidly in recent years. For example, hemp products in the USA reached a market value of 688 million dollars in 2016 and exceeded an estimated global volume of 1 billion euros in 2017. According to EIHA estimates, the European market value is around 120 million euros. Together with the hemp industry in China (textiles, food, cosmetics, CBD) and other countries, the nova-Institut estimates the total market value of hemp products in the world in 2018 at around €1.5 billion (excluding pharmaceuticals).

Meeting point of the world wide hemp industry

The worldwide growing hemp industry meets every year in Cologne (Germany) for the “EIHA Hemp Conference”, organised by nova-Institut in cooperation with the “European Industrial Hemp Association” (www.eiha.org) with about 150 members from all areas of industrial hemp use. In 2019, we expect 400 participants from 50 countries at the “16th EIHA Hemp Conference”, 5–6 June 2019, Maternushaus, Cologne. The day before the conference, EIHA will host expert workshops for members, meet representatives from Canada, USA and China and hold its Assembly in the evening. Anyone working on or interested in the topic of industrial hemp worldwide should not miss this conference. Numerous rooms and professional tools guarantee small, confidential meetings for efficient business contacts. Be there!

Now is the right time to submit presentation proposals, register for the innovation award “Hemp Product of Year 2019” and, above all, book stands. Based on experience of previous years, these will be in short supply soon. Should you be interested, you can also find attractive sponsoring opportunities. All information at: www.eiha-conference.org

Source: nova-Institut GmbH, 2019-01-14.


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