The Chairman of the NZHIA, Mack McIntosh expresses his extreme disappointment following an agreement on Friday 28th April between New Zealand and Australian food safety authorities that see hemp seed legalised as food in New Zealand.
"After 18 years of consultation, the Food Ministers are still treating us like a drug crop and only allowing hemp seed foods. This is a massive missed economic opportunity.
In a short time we could have been leading the world! And all sorts of industries would have developed not just in the seed and grain industry," says McIntosh.
The current decision means that we will not have access to the food and beverages from hemp leaves and flowering tops.
"The high value nutrition potential is massive, phenols to fragrances are available from this one arable crop and our farmers want access to the revenue streams from the whole plant, not just the seed," says McIntosh.
The seed and grain industry will scale up to meet the consumer demand and bring jobs and investment into regional New Zealand.
But the iHemp industry could be much bigger if we include the food and beverages produced from the 20% of the crop left in the field as leaf and flowering tops.
"This is a brand new opportunity for farmers to grow a crop and the region to significantly add value by processing the iHemp into high value nutrition hemp products. But 80% of the potential will be missed, because iHemp is still considered to be like growing a drug," says McIntosh.
The NZHIA is well positioned to represent the industry on the cross-agency working group which is being set up. "We've worked with the Government in the past on the inter-agency working group which came up with the iHemp regulations in 2006 so it makes sense for us to be part of these discussions," says McIntosh.
- New Zealand Hemp Industries Association