Summit aims to kick-start industrial hemp economy

Hemp Foods - hulled hemp seeds

New Zealand’s first iHemp Summit is being held this month with the aim of kick-starting a home-grown industrial hemp economy. Building on global interest in hemp business opportunities and fuelled by changing legislation, the summit will explore the potential for New Zealand to be the best in the world at growing and using hemp for food, fibre and medicine.

NZ Hemp Industries Association Inc and iHemp Summit chairman and Richard Barge says NZ has a fantastic opportunity to create a brand new primary industry based on hemp – and now is the time for an informed discussion.

“iHemp is being recognised as a sustainable source of food, fibre and medicine and this creates opportunities for companies to make it part of their future business plan and be part of what is projected by some analysts to be a NZ$75 billion global industry by 2025.”

The iHemp Summit is open to companies, farmers, scientists, funders, community leaders, economic development representatives, regulators and others wanting to look at opportunities to collaboratively develop NZ industrial hemp economy.

At the summit experts will share local and international knowledge on hemp, identify the local and export opportunities available to companies entering the industry, highlight the barriers to success within the market and develop strategies and relationships that will help the industry to overcome them.

The summit will have a raft of speakers including Hemp Genetics International director of operations Jeff Kostuik, Hemp International Australia managing director Bob Doyle, Deputy Director General of Regulations and Assurance at the Ministry for Primary Industries Bryan Wilson, University of Waikato Professor Kim Pickering, Callaghan Innovation senior research engineer Stephen Tallon, Western Sydney University lecturer and researcher Maggie Davidson, retired scientist Dr Mike Nichols, NZHIA chairman Mack McIntosh and Richard Barge.  

“Serious momentum is beginning to build globally in the iHemp industry as people become aware of the potential. New business opportunities are being created by legislative changes in areas such as hemp-seed law for food and the use of cannabis in medicine”, says Deloitte partner Andrew Gibbs.

In NZ food safety authorities are currently looking to follow Australia to allow hemp seed to be used in food by changing regulations under the Food Act, the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Medicines Act. These law changes expected later this year will allow hemp seed to be sold as a food in NZ, in addition to the current legislation allowing the local sale of hemp seed oil.

Midlands Seed and Midlands Nutritional Oils director Andrew Davidson says demand for their cold pressed hemp seed oil is being fuelled by interest in its beneficial health properties.

“It’s rich in essential fatty acids such as Alpha-linolenic acid, Omega 3 and Gamma-linolenic acid. These are the sort of specialty products that are also attracting the rapidly growing market of vegetarian and vegan consumers looking for new protein sources.

“There is enormous potential in hemp food products and the market is growing around 25 per cent year-on-year. Legislative changes that will allow other hemp seed-based foods will open up new sources of income and markets for the crop, potentially tripling plantings in the next few years.”

Richard says Kiwi ingenuity has a lot to offer the emerging iHemp industry. “We have talented people that can create solutions and improvements for growing and processing our annual crop, in to a wide range of exportable products and technology in food, fibre and medicine.

“To make the most of the opportunity we need to set the vision for our country’s industrial hemp value chain and the summit can play an important role in this.”

The summit is being coordinated by the NZ Hemp Industries Association Inc, which has been promoting the iHemp industry since 1997. The inaugural iHemp Summit is in Wellington on July 5-6. For details see


There are no comments on this article.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now
Opinion Poll

We're not running a poll right now. Check back soon!