Key decision looms for Australia, N. Zealand

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The governments of Australia and New Zealand will consider freeing up their respective hemp food markets at a meeting tomorrow. A bilateral Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation will review a positive recommendation by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) that came last month. A positive outcome from the Forum would make the hemp plant legal for human consumption beginning this November.

Approval could result in a quadrupling in the demand for Australian produced hemp-based food, Paul Benhaim, CEO at Hemp Foods Australia (HFA), has estimated. The company has pegged the value of the international market for hemp foods at about US$ 1 billion annually.

“[This decision] will also contribute significantly toward more sustainable farming in Australia, with the added bonus of creating considerable job opportunities for Australia’s farming industry,” he told the industry web site Food & Beverage.

HFA is well-positioned to capitalize on changes in Australia where it is upgrading a fully integrated factory that can turn out a high volume of bulk foodstuffs. That $1.18 million facility, at Bangalow in northern New South Wales, got a $600,000 grant from the government.

Aside from a growth spurt based on the opening of the Australian and New Zealand markets, Benhaim also sees exports remaining in a rapid growth cycle, with key markets in North America, Japan, Korea and Europe.

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