Left Out of Hemp’s Renaissance, U.S. Farmers Continue Legal Battle

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2009 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, has just released final estimates of the size of the U.S. retail market for hemp food and body care products in 2008. Data supporting the estimates show that retail sales of hemp food and body care products in the U.S. have continued to set records in 2008. Strong sales of popular hemp items like non-dairy milk, shelled hemp seed, soaps and lotions have occurred against the backdrop of state-licensed hemp farmers in North Dakota fighting a high stakes legal battle against the DEA to grow hemp for U.S. manufacturers. The new sales data validate U.S. farmers’ position that they are being shut out of the lucrative hemp market that Canadian farmers have cashed in on for over a decade now.

The sales data, collected by the market research firm SPINS, were obtained from natural and conventional food retailers, excluding Whole Foods Market and other establishments not providing sales data – and thus underestimate actual sales by a factor of at least three. According to the SPINS data, hemp grocery sales grew in the sampled stores by 42% over the previous year ending December 27, 2008, or $2.56 million, to a total of $8.64 million. The SPINS data also show that sales of hemp body care products grew by 19%, or $3.00 million, over the previous year to a total of $19.12 million. Finally, according to SPINS, combined hemp food, body care and vitamin product sales grew by 22%, or $6.11 million, over the previous year to a total of $33.51 million.

Due to significant sales excluded from the SPINS data, such as The Body Shop, Whole Foods Market and restaurants, as well as the fact that many unreported leading mass-market brands of suntan lotion and sunscreen products include hemp oil, the HIA estimates the total retail value of North American hemp food, vitamin and body care product sales to be in the range of $100-120 million for 2008.

“Farmers who want to grow hemp to support the steady double-digit growth are mad as ever about being shut out by our backward federal government,” says David Bronner, who makes Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and uses hemp oil in all his top-selling products. “The HIA is confident that the total North American hemp food and body care market over the last year accounted for $100-120 million in retail sales,” adds Bronner, who also chairs the HIA Food and Oil Committee. Full article here.

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