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Global trends in hemp production
Hemp production is now a global venture. In 2019, the global hemp market was valued at $4.71 billion, but the total valuation is expected to increase dramatically by 2025, with a CAGR of 34% taking it up to $26.6 billion.
The top 5 hemp-producing countries:
China sits comfortably atop the list of the biggest hemp producing countries in the world. With a cultivation history dating back to the 11th century, China reportedly produces about 70% of the world’s hemp volume at a time. In 1985, China signed the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances and subsequently banned the cultivation of all cannabis varieties. In 2010, China relaxed its anti-hemp laws, prompting licensed companies to cultivate hemp under strict regulations. Current statistics suggest that China produces about 44,000 metric tons of hemp yearly—that’s 38% of the world’s total hemp production.
In China, hemp production is only allowed in two provinces: Yunnan Province in the south and Heilongjiang Province in the north. China’s climate is naturally favorable for hemp cultivation with the eastern coast providing good terrain for hemp farming. The China Yunnan strain—an Indica-dominant hybrid with a cheesy taste and earthy flavor—is widely known in the hemp market. It is believed that this strain was bred using a South Indian Indica landrace and a South Asian Sativa variety.
Canada is well-known for its progressive policies on the production, use, and marketing of cannabis. In 1998, hemp production was legalized in Canada, allowing local farmers to venture into the booming cannabis business. Health Canada reported an unprecedented increase of 80% in hemp production during the 2016-2017 growing season. Primarily, hemp production and harvesting take place in three provinces of the country: Manitoba (30,000 acres), Alberta (45,000 acres), and Saskatchewan (56,000 acres).
A major part of the annual hemp volume produced in Canada is utilized for the production of hemp oils, hulled hemp seeds, hemp protein powders, and hemp-derived cannabidiol. With the United States providing the biggest market for Canada’s hemp, market analysis suggests that the country’s supply of hemp outruns the demand, leading to a shortfall in product prices.
There are over 20 hemp varieties approved for commercial production in Canada. These varieties include Altair, Alyssa, Carmen, Vega, Georgina, Silesia, and Yvonne. With regulated production in favorable climate conditions, Canada’s hemp strains contain low THC levels and are considered high in quality in the global hemp market.
The 2018 Farm Bill was a turning point for the U.S. hemp market. U.S. hemp production volume has increased exponentially since the Bill allowed the commercial production and marketing of hemp and hemp-derived products. With pro-hemp policies enacted in just 23 states, the 2018 Hemp Acreage Report recorded 78,176 licensed acres of hemp. Production of hemp in the U.S. is primarily targeted at manufacturing fabrics, hempcrete, hemp-derived CBD, and textiles.
The New Frontier Data report projected a valuation of $2.6 billion for the U.S. hemp market, as the market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 27%. The popular hemp strains grown in the United States include Electra, Ringo’s Gift, Berry Bossom, T1 Trump, Cherry Wine, Kush, Sweet Premium, and recently, Matterhorn CBG. Hemp regulation in the U.S. also strictly regulates the quality of these strains with mandatory 0.3% THC-level tests. Climatic conditions favor local hemp production, especially in seasons and areas where the soil temperature is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This typically occurs between May and June in most U.S. zones.
Hemp has a longstanding heritage in France, which is considered the epicenter of European hemp production today. In the mid-1800s, a few hundred hectares of hemp were cultivated in the country mainly for industrial purposes, including the production of linen, fabric, rope, cordage, natural oil, and sail for the aviation industry. In September 2019, a New Frontier Data report on hemp production in Europe indicated that the European countries produce about 25% of the world’s hemp supply. France alone accounts for over 40% of this volume.
Regulations on hemp quality are strict in Europe (0.2% THC limit); however, France still produced roughly 17,900 hectares of hemp in 2018 with Italy, Netherlands, and Estonia coming close at 4,000, 3,833, and 3,538 hectares respectively. Cultivars approved for commercial hemp production in France include Carmagnola, Ferimon, Fibranova, Futura, Orion 33, and Santhica 70, with hemp cultivations mainly found in the Sarthe region and the Loire Valley in West-Central France.
Chile is the largest producer of hemp in South America. Hemp production has long been linked to the Spanish conquest, with the first hemp cultivations found north of Santiago in the Valparaiso district near Quillota. Just like in China, hemp has a long history in Chile. Today, Chile is a global leader in the production of hemp seeds. In 2014, Chile legalized medical cannabis, prompting a sharp increase in hemp cultivation, mainly targeted at hemp-derived CBD and hemp food products.
The Agricultural and Livestock Service of Chil’s regulations of large-scale hemp production are strict. This has hampered increased production of hemp on an industrial scale; however, Chile holds the record for the largest cannabis consumption per capita in Latin America. Climatic conditions in Chile are favorable to the approved hemp production. Hemp cultivars common in Chile include Piedmont, Kentucky, Russian hemp, and Yugoslavian hemp.