Soaring superfood: Fast growth predicted for CBD and hemp food products in APAC markets

Soaring superfood: Fast growth predicted for CBD and hemp food products in APAC markets

This is why in this edition of the FNA Deep Dive, we take a closer look at the CBD and hemp industry from a food and nutrition point of view, and how APAC firms are producing products such as beverages, edible oils, meat options, spreads and more.

The quick development of this market is expected to be moved by the growing variety of vegans in the area and increasing health awareness due to hemp and CBD’s dietary benefits, and the market as a whole is expected to grow some 28.6%to strike US$229 bn by 2027.

From a nation viewpoint, within the APAC region Australia and New Zealand were the first to approve hemp-related items such as oils and seeds for food purposes, so it comes as no surprise that these countries are the most mature in terms of related F&B products, with a large range of hemp-based foods and drinks already readily available for sale on grocery store racks.

These include hemp-based kombucha and instilled waters, and according to Hemp Oz, one of the best-known Australian names in this sector, the pattern for hemp-based foods and drinks is still well on its way up.

” There is a growing pattern for hemp items in Australia, [with] F&B being among the fastest growing segments in this regard,” Hemp Oz moms and dad company Oz Medicann Group’s CEO and Creator John Leith told FoodNavigator-Asia


” Hemp is becoming more commonly accepted and is offered in the mass market under major supermarket brand names. [This is especially so with a] concentrate on this as plant-based food, where we have seen a growing usage of hemp as a primary active ingredient in processed foods and meal plans.

” When it comes to the use of hemp in drinks, we are in fact yet to see an ‘explosion’ in this area[by manufacturers] primarily due to the innovation [and technology] required to instill hemp seed oil into water soluble options.

” Hemp Oz also launched Australia’s first hemp tea range in 2015, which integrates the health advantages of hemp seeds with the practical advantages of herbs used in traditional medicine.”

Hemp kombucha Hemp Oz

Hemo Oz’s hemp kombucha beverage © Hemp Oz

Hemp Oz introduced the first hemp drinks in Australia in 2017, the technology for which the firm won an innovation award by Food Innovation Australia.

” Hemp is among the newest superfoods on the block and has a series of benefits consisting of antioxidants, anti-inflammation, the highest material of healthy and necessary fatty acids [in its seeds], and a perfect balance of Omega 3, 6 and 9 which the body can not get in any other foods,” said Leith.

” Hemp is likewise packed with vital minerals and vitamins including high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, salt, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron and zinc.

” In addition, Our Hemp Kombucha drink, which is loaded with 39 billion live probiotics has actually undergone early stage scientific trials and has actually been shown to lower blood sugar level levels and minimize the signs of Type 2 diabetes.”

Hemp-based foods

Outside of drinks, among the biggest hemp product manufacturers in Oceania is Hemp Foods Australia (HFA), which deals not just with conventional hemp item formats like seeds, oils and protein powder, however has innovated products such as hemp-based spreads and flavoured hemp oils.


” The COVID-19 pandemic has produced demand for healthy items that individuals can include quickly to their meals,” HFA General Supervisor Felipe Favaro informed us.

” Hemp is a nutrition powerhouse, consisting of 32%protein and 50%oil, and we at HFA have actually seen growing demand for our hemp-based products, so much so that our sales grew 22%in Q4 2020 and we definitely anticipate double-digit development this year even despite the pandemic.

” We see that consumer demand is there with no indication of decrease, [and] anticipate this pattern to continue in the next 2 to 5 years as more items use hemp as a key ingredient

See the video below for more insights from HFA:

Over in New Zealand, Sustainable Foods has likewise developed a hemp-based meat product which will be released later on this year, with the company’s Co-Founder Kyran Rei also keen to concentrate on marketing this as not simply a plant-based product however also to put strong focus on its health, nutrition and sustainable properties.

” We understand hemp seeds contain a lot of protein but a lot more significantly it gives complete protein, indicating it includes all 9 necessary amino acids [which the human body is unable to produce by itself and] is generally related to only being discovered in animal-sourced products,” Rei told FoodNavigator-Asia


” So the difficulty [really stood out to us] to develop a tasty plant-based meat option that delivers the very same or higher complete protein material– plus this will likewise assist in dealing with the issues created by consuming meat.

” H emp has actually also been scientifically shown to absorb more CO 2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop – One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 22 tonnes of CO 2 per hectare, [and] its quick growth (grows to 4 metres in 100 days) makes it among the fastest CO 2– to-biomass conversion tools readily available too, more effective than agro-forestry.”

He highlighted that the health and wellness advantages are very crucial to catch the general public eye, and believes that the potential customers for CBD and hemp based foods to grow into a mainstream category are there and this will occur as soon as guidelines allow.

” The [hemp and CBD] industry is actually waiting for the policies to change– and when they do, we will be ready to advance too,” said Rei.

CBD products and Asian markets

So far, in Australia and New Zealand only hemp and not CBD has been used in the production of F&B items as regulations do not yet allow for CBD use outside of medicinal usage – however surprisingly CBD-based products are in fact available in markets like Hong Kong, in spite of the food-related market being in general less mature.

Products like Hong Kong’s OH CBD beer which was introduced in 2015 can be found in shops, foodservice and online, and the company claims that there are likewise advantages to be found from consuming this.

OH CBD OH5 Company

OH CBD beer from Hong Kong © OH5 Business

” Previous studies have actually recommended CBD usage can decrease blood alcohol levels and lower toxic results on the liver, and [though more research is needed], our company believe that there is still some therapeutic value to combining CBD and alcohol,” stated OH CBD Founder Henry Leung.

” We do think that CBD beer will eventually become on trend here in Hong Kong, and hopefully this will reach other Asian countries too.”

Japan also has a number of foodservice outlets serving CBD food and beverages, typically made by blending CBD oil with these items which can vary from sugary foods to drinks to lasagne.

Surprisingly, CBD foods are not yet allowed in China, which is well-recognised as one of the most mature markets regulations-wise in Asia.

” Hemp-based foods can be discovered just about anywhere in China, however CBD is not allowed foods here yet– we believe this will be enabled later, but not yet,” China-focus hemp and CBD company Asia Horizon CEO Brian Sheng told us.

” The story for hemp is much more sophisticated though – China has the most sophisticated commercial hemp supply chain and for processing this into making all sorts of hemp-related things, more than any nation in Asia by far.

” That stated, I ‘d state that the consumer market is not at the exact same level yet– though it looks like it is about to speed up. All it takes is just one crucial viewpoint leader (KOL, basically an online influencer) using the items or promoting these to make the entire thing take off.”


Asia Horizon is launching its own customer trademark name Ouma in March 2021, and in regards to edible SKUs will initially concentrate on CBD casts (focused extracts), pills and later gummies, and appropriately the strategy is likewise to deal with KOLs to promote these to the market.

” There aren’t many CBD products readily available in China, but consumers are learning quickly and the huge online platforms like Tmall and JD are also interested as they are always on the lookout for brand-new and emerging categories,” stated Sheng.

” Over the past 12 months, we have actually certainly already seen a drastic boost in entry to the CBD classification, and in the next 12 months I am sure we’ll be seeing even much faster development. [This not only applies to Mainland China], but likewise in CBD food where they are offered like in Hong Kong.”

Over in India, the Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO) is one of the most recognized hemp-related firms in the market and thinks that hemp and CBD have ‘limitless potential’ as F&B items in the Indian market as these are able to tie in with current regional F&B patterns.

” India is a reasonably late entrant in the APAC hemp and CBD market, [with such] edible items just starting to go into the Indian market,” BOHECO Co-Founder and Director Yash Kotak told us.

BOHECO hemp products

A few of BOHECO’s hemp edible items. © BOHECO

“[That said], the capacity is limitless [especially due to] the adaptability [which] makes it possible for it to be plugged in not just existing industries but also be a category in itself.

“[These] items fit perfectly offered the current times, beginning the back of 2020 that has in fact increased the significance of health in people’s lives [as it fits] some onseting trends in India such as immunity building, mental health, vegan/vegetarian food options, organic food [and so on].

Laws and difficulties

A good deal of misconception still exists concerning cannabis, hemp, CBD and their psychoactive properties and usages, resulting in regulative approval hold-ups in most APAC nations.

The primary concern is that marijuana flowers, fruits and leaves are commonly smoked for leisure purposes as a psychoactive drug due to the existence of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC) which causes a ‘high’– even though in reality, hemp originates from a various cannabis range which has low levels of THC however high levels of CBD, which does not cause a high.

According to Kotak, this lack of awareness stays a challenge in India, and it will take some time, perhaps years, prior to the complete potential of hemp and CBD as an active ingredient can be realised.

” In India, the illiteracy and R&D efforts for the purpose of the crop’s commercialisation stays a difficulty,” he said.

” Consumers and patients require to get the best sort of standard product which can just happen with the best kind of clinical initiatives. There is a wide area that is not yet explored with hemp here in India.

” Owing to the lack of information in the mind of consumers combined with the common false information that individuals have about hemp, it’s vital that the air around hemp is cleared and the focus is on the wide variety of advantages it has to use rather.”

Hemp and CBD

Much misunderstanding still exists around hemp and CBD. © Getty Images

In China, policies are well laid out for hemp and CBD by ensuring that the most governance takes place at the processing phase of hemp, and not creating unnecessary market pressure by over-regulating.

” Hemp and CBD are typically controlled in 3 ways– planting, processing and when sold as an item– lots of markets like the United States and Canada have pretty open policies for the very first two, and there has actually been a lot of oversupply in the domestic market,” said Sheng.

” In China, focus has actually been on regulating processing, so as to manage any THC that may appear in products at this phase. This means farmers can plant as much as they like for usage in a range of sectors just like any active ingredient, and the customer product producers who buy the processed hemp can make and sell their products as long as aligned with the item regulations.

” So here hemp and CBD are not deemed ‘bad’ active ingredients, and this has actually helped the market to grow.”

That stated, Sheng added that at an international level, understanding obstacles still exist.

” The United Nations reclassified marijuana and its derivatives from the strictest control schedule in December in 2015, but still policies are yet to totally open,” he said.

” This would have a major result, as it goes together with local regulations– just when the UN makes these legalisations will countries worldwide be comfy to do the very same.”

Leith concurred, saying that policies in different APAC countries remain the main difficulty for the market to truly flourish.

” The major challenge stays the regulatory environments within each country. While these are changing there have actually been limitations placed on the import of CBD and hemp Products into [various] APAC countries,” he stated.

” In Australia making use of hemp in consumables is limited to hemp seed oil production or the use of hulled hemp seeds in numerous items.

” That said, I forecast that the hemp market will continue to grow and expand internationally in 2021, mostly driven by consumer need and the acknowledgment that consumers are looking for health alternatives to existing products.

The rise in plant-based food as a classification should likewise increase hemp sales, and the focus of ‘food as thy medication’ and natural option treatments will see CBD grow exponentially across the markets in the area that are legal.”

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