Homegrown hemp seed - a new kai

Hemp seed products may be the new healthy super-food, according to a Ngāti Kahungunu man who is stepping up production.

New rules allowing the production of hemp for food are good news for Ngāti Kahungunu’s Isaac Beach.  

Based in Hawke's Bay, Isaac is a co-owner of Kanapu Holdings, which produces hemp seed oil from hemp grown around the Ngāti Kahungunu region.

The new regulations mean he can now produce flour, flakes and other hemp food products that were, until last week, banned.

Food Safety Minister Damien O'Connor believes the new move will stimulate regional economies, create jobs and generate 10 to 20 million dollars of export revenue within 3 to 5 years.

Hemp looks and smells like marijuana but hemp contains less than .3 percent of the psychoactive ingredient THC and is rich in antioxidants, protein and omega-6.

Kanapu can’t keep up with oil orders at the moment and is investing huge sums into a new plant to produce the new products.

Beach believes Māori should invest in the industry as growing hemp has little environmental effect and has a fast turn-around from cultivation to market.  A hemp crop will grow in 3 months compared with the 20 to 25 years required for a pine forest to mature.

“Hemp is the new kid on the block.  It’s important that Māori are at the forefront of the industry, ride the crest of the wave and reap the rewards of taking that risk collectively and sharing the fruits of that at the end of the day,” he says.

The owner and chef of award-winning Napier restaurant Pacifica, Jeremy Rameka says chefs are always on the look-out for homegrown, healthy products.

He is already sold on the nutty flavour of hemp oil.