Australian government grants $600k for Bangalow-based hemp food company

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A cannabis plant is displayed at the first "Expo Cannabis" fair in Montevideo December 14, 2014. Reuters/Andres Stapff

Despite being illegal to produce hemp food products for human consumption in Australia, the federal government has granted $600,000 to the hemp manufacturer, Hemp Foods Australia, to improve their facilities. The company said that the grant will be used to build a $1.178-million state-of-the-art processing plant to produce hemp seed products until it is declared legal to sell foods in the local market.

Founded in 2000, Hemp Foods Australia has grown into the largest hemp food manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer and exporter in the southern hemisphere. The company produces products such as hemp seeds, oil and protein.

The grant comes from the government’s Entrepreneurs Programme. According to Richmond MP Justine Elliot, the programme will allow all companies with innovative ideas to enter the global marketplace.

Elliot has also acknowledged the achievement of Hemp Foods. She said that the company is growing at a remarkable rate with a “very successful business” in Bangalow.

"Hemp is cultivated worldwide, including in Australia and New Zealand (under strict licensing arrangements), and is currently used in Australia as a source of material production and building products,” Elliot said.

To date, hemp is already a legal food in many countries, including Europe, the United States and Canada. Producers are using hemp for foods such as health bars, salad oils, non-dairy milk, non-dairy cheeses and also as an additive to baked goods.

However, in Australia, the use of hemp for food ingredients, such as flour, oil and protein powder, is still under review for food laws, according to Elliot. Hemp is already proven to have no psychoactive properties, she added.

In spite of being illegal to produce hemp food products in the country, Hemp Foods Australia is aiming to use the grant to improve their facilities to produce new hemp food products, according to Felipe Favaro, the company’s finance manager, in a report by The Northern Star.  

"We are going to buy new processing machinery to create new products," Favaro said. Hemp Foods is expecting for a change in the Australian laws to sell hemp products as a food by July in 2015, he added.

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