A Bangalow-based company which is now the largest exporter of hemp foods in the southern hemisphere is wondering when its products will finally be recognised as food in Australia.
Hemp Foods Australia chief executive Paul Benhaim recently met with the First Lady of Japan Akie Abe at a hemp forum in Kyoto and discovered that she was a great supporter of the industry.
However, while Japan is importing huge amounts of hemp from Hemp Foods Australia, the products are still not recognised as food in Australias due to legislation against the consumption of hemp.
Echonetdaily has reported previously that hemp advocates claim that the only reason hemp foods are not allowed in Australia is because police forces have argued the foods could jeopardise their roadside drug testing regimes.
Despite the ban, exports to other countries continue to grow.
Mr Benhaim said he was delighted to meet with Japan’s First Lady and discuss the issue.
‘Hemp has strong roots in Japanese culture, and the First Lady is excited about continuing the tradition of hemp in her great country,’ Mr Benhaim said.
The inaugural Kyoto Hemp Forum focused on the environmental benefits of using hemp for industrial purposes, in place of more toxic products that pollute and damage the atmosphere.
The conference included a presentation about the history of hemp in Japan and a review of hemp industries across the globe.
Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa and Chief Priest of Kamigamo Shrine Yasuhiro Tanaka also participated in a roundtable discussion of Japan’s hemp industry with the First Lady.
Mr Benhaim was joined by author Chris Conrad and a group of progressive activists for a segment titled Hemp: Lifeline to the Future.
Hemp Foods Australia was founded by Benhaim in 2000 and is now the largest hemp food wholesaler, retailer, manufacturer and exporter in the Southern Hemisphere.
The company has gained a strong reputation for its organic, nutritional products made from high-quality hemp seeds, hemp oils and hemp protein powder.
In late 2015 it was awarded a government grant of nearly $600,000 that has been put toward innovative hemp food product development and increasing its factory size.
Hemp Foods Australia now exports to South Korea and distributes in Japan through its sister company Hemp Foods Japan.
Its products were nominated for the 2016 Japanese Vogue Beauty Awards.
‘It was an honor to meet with the First Lady at the Kyoto Hemp Forum,’ Benhaim said.
‘More importantly, it is a major breakthrough to have an individual of high influence backing our cause in Japan, and Hemp Foods Australia hopes the First Lady will engage leaders of Japanese industry in these critical conversations as we look to make a more sustainable planet through the use of hemp.’