A new project aiming to establish a hemp seed processing plant in New Zealand is being called a gamechanger for the local industry.
The project is being backed by the Ministry for Primary Industries which is contributing more than $245,000 to Hemp Connect's two-year pilot project through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.
The project ultimately aims to enable locally grown hemp food products to compete with imported varieties.
"One of the keys to reducing costs has been researching how to use the entire seed, as well as the associated waste streams," says Mathew Johnson, managing director of Hemp Connect.
"Our goal with this project is to make hemp food production in New Zealand a viable and internationally competitive option."
Johnson says traditionally the cost of importing hemp food has been significantly cheaper than producing it locally.
"By increasing the scale of production, new product developments such as husk bi-products, hemp sprouts and animal feed will become more economically viable," he says.
"Kiwis are incredible thinkers when it comes to innovation, particularly in the food and beverage industry.
"We have loved working with so many people, including our new staff, engineers, electricians and pneumatic specialists, to apply our Number 8 Wire and problem-solving skills to an industry that has been around for centuries, but without the New Zealand touch."
The Levin-based company is looking forward to providing a product for Kiwis which is environmentally friendly and world-leading.
"Hemp doesn't need chemicals and is drought tolerant, so it has environmental benefits," says Steve Penno, MPI's director of investment programmes.
"One of the most exciting aspects of this project will be enabling Hemp Connect to develop products that have never been produced domestically or internationally."