The hemp market is growing worldwide, there is no doubt about that. And with competition among many US growers and farmers leading to a domestic surplus, it comes as no surprise that producers are looking for other avenues to export hemp crops. This might sound like an ideal situation due to a growing demand and market across the Atlantic, but the truth reveals some very real barriers to potential profits.
Europe is indeed an active and growing market for hemp. Hemp has been legal to some degree in the EU since the 1990s and this had led to countries such as France and Finland producing large amounts of the crop for fiber and pharmaceuticals. But this popularity has come alongside a domestic increase in production of 250% in the last 8 years. While this shows a definite demand for hemp use in everything from building materials to foodstuffs, it also shows a solid barrier to any exports from outside of the region.
Another attractive lure for potential export of hemp products to Europe is the rise of the CBD market across the continent. According to the Brightfield Group, the European CBD market sat at 318 million dollars in 2018 and is expected to make over a fourfold increase on that number looking ahead into 2023. Those numbers speak for themselves and indicate a steadily growing demand for the hemp-derived cannabinoid.
In other recent news that puts a border on the bounty for hemp growers considering possible export to Europe, the European Commission just raised the potential of classifying CBD extracted from hemp as a narcotic while delaying 50 CBD-related Novel food applicants until they fully decide next steps. This news has led many in the industry across the globe to shake their heads at another potential legal setback rooted in archaic laws and classifications that don’t address the modern hemp and cannabis markets. The good news is this isn’t set in stone yet and seems to indicate that the commission wants to take steps towards more thought out regulation in the near future.
All things considered, European hemp exports exist currently in somewhat murky waters. There is serious potential and steadily increasing demand coupled with a large amount of hemp production already occurring in many countries on the continent and recent legal hurdles. Growers and farmers should not give up on Europe but should consider all of these factors when pursuing the potential for export.
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