For Immediate Release
Sunday, October 19, 2008
CONTACT: Tom Murphy 207-542-4998
Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
Hemp Advocates to Andrew Lahde:
"Can You Spare a Million to Make Your Vision Reality?"
Hemp Food and Body Care Sales Stronger than Ever in 2008
U.S. Farmers Suing DEA to Grow Hemp are Back in Court November 12
Boston, MA — The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a trade association made up of hundreds of hemp businesses meeting in Boston today, is appealing to millionaire retired hedge fund manager Andrew Lahde to use a portion of his recent windfall made betting against sub-prime mortgage-backed securities to help bring back hemp farming in the United States. Mr. Lahde garnered media attention for stating in a resignation letter that hemp is needed as an alternative food and energy source and should be grown again in the U.S.
"Mr. Lahde's perspective is right on the money," says HIA out-going President David Bronner. Retail sales of hemp food and body care products in the United States have continued to set record sales over the past twelve months, according to new data released by the HIA. The 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 DEA to grow hemp for U.S. manufacturers. The new sales data validates U.S. farmers' position that they are being left out of the lucrative hemp market that Canadian farmers have cashed in on for eleven years.
The sales data, collected by the market research firm SPINS, was obtained from natural food retailers only, excluding Whole Foods Market and mass-market food and pharmacy stores, and thus under-represents actual sales by a factor of two to three. The new report shows that hemp grocery sales grew in the sampled stores by 65% over the previous year (from August 2007 to August 2008), or by $2.4 million, to a total of $6.12 million. Based on the representative growth of this sample, the HIA Food and Oil Committee now estimates that the total retail value of hemp foods sold over the past 12 months in North America grew from $20 million last year to approximately $33 million this year. In addition, the SPINS data show that sales of hemp body care products grew 10% over the past 12 months in the sampled stores to $12.24 million. Due to the large hemp body care line sold by The Body Shop, as well as the fact that many unreported leading mass-market brands of sun tan lotion and sunscreen products include hemp oil, the HIA estimates the total retail value of North American hemp body care sales to be at least $80 million.
"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 Mr. 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 12 months accounted for at least $100 million in retail sales," adds Mr. Bronner.
Over the last three years, hemp food sales have averaged 47% annual growth, making hemp one of the fastest-growing natural food categories. "Last fall we expected the double-digit growth of the hemp food sector to continue in 2008, as the excitement about hemp milk had led to more brands in the market," comments Eric Steenstra, HIA Executive Director. "We project that growth in the markets for hemp food and body care will keep pace into 2009," says Steenstra.
CORRECTION: In Mr. Lahde's letter, he said that; "Hemp is the 'male plant' [metaphorically speaking, hemp is, like the male Cannabis plant, useless as a drug] and it grows like a weed, hence the slang term." This is not quite correct, however, as hemp is both female and male, but is distinct from the drug varieties of Cannabis because it contains virtually no THC, the chemical that generates a high. Please click here to download Mr. Lahde's letter. (PDF file 28K)
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The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) represents the interests of the hemp industry and encourages the research and development of new hemp products. More information about hemp's many uses and hemp legislation may be found at www.HempIndustries.org and www.VoteHemp.com. DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.