Hemp at the helm: Hemp Foods Australia unveils expansion strategies to make products mainstream
Hemp Foods Australia (HFA) recently secured a distribution deal with Woolworths supermarkets, which would see its organic hemp seed oil stocked in all 948 stores across Australia as of January 2023.
Their product range is currently distributed in an estimated 2,300 stores across the country, and is made available on online and offline channels.
“Our key priority is to launch new products in our existing distribution channels. For those products that are not really arranged into the major supermarkets, our focus is bringing them across to more consumers, so they can also consume highly nutritious and delicious products,” Felipe Favaro, General Manager of HFA, told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Beyond Australia, some of HFA products are also made available in New Zealand and Japan, such as hemp seeds, protein powder, and protein shakes; and HFA conveyed that they have plans to export to the United States in 2023 via its distribution partner, Elixinol.
FoodNavigator-Asia had previously spoken with several APAC hemp food manufacturers about the prospects of CBD and hemp in the region.
From niche to mainstream
In late-2021, the firm said its hemp seed products were in a niche segment, with its organic products stocked in only 110 independent grocery and health food shops across Australia.
But Favaro told us that the product was well-received among their customers and product sales have grown 125% from 2021 to 2022, which led them to the intention of bringing hemp oil mainstream to the supermarkets.
“What is driving the increasing consumption of organic hemp gold seed oil in Australia is the increased awareness of the nutritional properties of the hemp seed oil, which is a source of plant-based, high-quality Omega 3, 6 and 9. Consumers are looking for an alternative to fish oil.”
On the consumer education front, the company recently partnered with former MasterChef finalist Simon Toohey on Australia’s first fully plant-based show to raise awareness about the health benefits of hemp and demonstrate how to use HFA’s hemp food products in meals.
“Simon has been a great partner for us educating consumers on the nutritional and sustainable properties of the product. He has done amazing recipes for us on the website and social media, such as our YouTube, blog articles, and so forth.”
New product development
Presently, HFA’s hemp seed oil products are mainly used as a cold culinary oil, such as on salads, smoothies, vegetables, or even consumed on its own.
Moving forward, their product development strategy would dive into the creation of value-added products using their three key ingredients – hemp seeds, hemp oil, and hemp powder.
“Recently in September, October, we launched a range of a functional seed mixes. It is a range of four products: Gut health, antioxidant, protein boost, and an Omega seed mix. They are performing really well at Coles [supermarket], so we're going to continuing developing along the lines.
“We also have our Hemp Gold protein powder and a range of flavoured-hemp protein powder. We’re going to continue the development of products related to the diet and sports category, and whole foods that has minerals and vitamins,” said Favaro.
Hemp oil and pharmaceuticals
HFA also told us exclusively that they recently received regulatory approval from the Australian government to use hemp oil in medicines, and this would constitute part of their NPD strategy:
“We recently got TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration]’s approval to use the hemp oil as an ingredient in complementary medicines. We are developing a range of hemp seed oil products that would fall under TGA-registered products. We’re really excited about because it is something unique in the market and we're going to be the first in market to bring a hemp seed oil product that is TGA-approved.”