The new facility will have enough capacity to produce 5,000 tons of hemp seed a year.
Hempco has begun to fit out a 50,000-square-foot hemp seed food and fibre processing plant in Alberta, Canada.
The new facility near Edmonton builds on an agreement for the land from November, and will include enough capacity every year for 5,000 tons of hemp seed, 20,000 tons of hemp fibre stock and 2,000 tons of hemp leaf and flower chaff. At current market rates, those levels of output are worth nearly CAD 2.1 billion ($1.57 billion) in sales value.
Hempco CEO Charles Holmes said: “It’s the perfect location and facility for fulfilling our mandate of ‘whole crop utilisation’. We still have a lot of work to do, and more money to spend to get it running the way we want, and we will need to hire many more good people.
“The Alberta government has been very supportive. Edmonton is a fantastic resource centre for parts, services and skilled labour. Edmonton is also the heart of Canada’s longest and sunniest growing hours and some of the best soil with lowest risk from flooding land area for growing industrial hemp. Logistically we couldn’t be in a better place.”
Hemp has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly as an alternative ingredient in energy drinks. According to a 2015 report, “a wave of marijuana legalisation in the US has freed beverage start-ups to experiment with tetrahydrocannabinol infusions, as well as non-intoxicating hemp concoctions”.
It predicted that marijuana will be as socially acceptable as alcohol over the next decade – whether that’s in the form of intoxicating beverages, or alternatives like hemp juice that remove the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Another of the drug’s active ingredients – cannabidiol (CBD) – has a role to play in determining the make-up of hemp products.
With bulk sales of nearly $4 million from the beginning of its current financial year in September to the end of March, Hempco has a role to play at the forefront of hemp’s rise in demand.
And, according to CEO Holmes, the new facility in Nisku, Alberta will help the company to bolster its position in the market.
“We have already begun implementing BRC ‘AA’ level safety and quality control measures and software systems that will raise the hemp industry bar to produce the highest quality products with the greatest efficiency in a state-of-the-art, ‘pharmaceutical-grade’ facility for hemp food processing, hemp fibre processing and hemp nutraceutical low-THC CBD processing,” he said.
The site will also house 8,000 square feet of combined office and ancillary spaces, as well as a 4,000-square-foot clean room area for blending and packaging protein powders, food bars and hemp burgers.
The company is targeting June 2017 for the grand opening of its new food and fibre processing plant.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017