Hemp Oil Canada
Hemp Oil Canada Inc. is based in Ste. Agathe, Man., in the heart of the Canadian prairies, some 25 kilometres south of Winnipeg. The company was incorporated in March 1998, the very same month Health Canada re-legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp. Hemp Oil Canada’s processing facility opened in 1999. The company is one of the largest producers and processors of bulk hemp food products and ingredients, bulk wholesale and private label hemp food products and ingredients, exporting to more than 15 international destinations including the European Union, United Kingdom, South Africa, Asia, and North America. As such, the company is the leader in the research and development of new hemp food ingredients as well as an ambassador of the global hemp food industry.
Hemp Oil Canada actively promotes the development of the sustainable industrial hemp processing industry in Manitoba and Canada, and works closely with strategic partners, government agencies, and producer associations. The company hemp processing facility is the first in Canada to hold FSSC 22000:2011 accreditation (a food safety management system which incorporates ISO 22000, HACCP, Pre-Requisite Programs (formerly known as GMP)). FSSC 22000 is fully recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). The company produces both conventional and Certified Organic, recognized by Pro-Cert Organic Systems for Organic, certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union, and Halal by the Halal Product Development Services.
Led by its founder Shaun Crew, the company is determined to bring hemp food products into the mainstream through greater public awareness and media exposure to the exceptional nutritional profile of hemp seeds, their good taste, and environmental benefits, promoting hemp as a true wonder food packed with vitamins and minerals, free of all major allergens, and produced in Canada in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.
“Canada is a major producer of seeds right across the board – canola, flax, sunflower. That’s because we have the right agronomy, growing conditions and soils in Western Canada; we have the long, hot day and the short, cool night which is ideal for oil seed production, so if you start with the best seed and conditions it’s easy to make the best product.
“Because we are the largest producer and processor in the world, we are in a fairly high position, and in that position we want to make sure that we raise the bar high enough for anyone following us. To challenge us, the completion has to become a very reputable company in regard to the food safety programs and with the management philosophy and marketing philosophy being such that we are here to help companies to incorporate hemp food ingredients into their products and add value to their products by incorporating hemp in their recipe and blend. Being a leader, we are here to set the standard for those who are following,” elucidated Crew.
The company contracts with farm producers across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta to mitigate the potential risk of low production in one area. Farmers produce hemp at a pre-set price and a guaranteed delivery, so the growers know that the crop will be delivered to the company.
“We spend a lot of time with our growers. I think we are the only company that created a Hemp Production Grower’s Guide kit so we can provide growers with guidelines to the hemp production. We have an agronomist on staff who spends a lot of time with our growers ensuring that they are able to produce premium quality crops, creating a win-win situation, because if our growers do well, we do well, because the seed they are producing is the raw material for everything we do. Partnering with our growers is very important to us, and many of our growers have been with us for over 10 years. Also, if anything, the number of our growers is decreasing because our growers are doing more and more acres for us each year,” says Crew.
As one of the earliest domesticated plants, hemp has been cultivated by many civilizations for over 12,000 years as a source of nutrients, and fibre to make cloth and even paper. But hemp fell off the grace due to its connection with marijuana, and hemp still remains a more of a novelty to the customers rather than a mainstream foodstuff. But, according to Crew, the change has been steadily taking off with more educated customers and food producers.
“Compared to 15 years ago, most of the major Canadian grocery chains carry some kind of hemp product. The heath stores also carry many varieties of hemp products. Hemp is much more accepted than it was 15 years ago, as the customers got over the connection of hemp to its ugly cousin, marijuana. When people look at the nutritional value of the product, they see the value, whether it’s a doctor or a fitness dietician. This message has changed these attitudes. It tastes good and it’s good for you.”
With the widespread awareness about the nutritional value, Hemp Oil Canada saw double digit annual growth for more than 10 years, and the company grew by 60 per cent in 2012 alone. “Everybody in the hemp business sees great growth. Companies that used to buy 1,000 pounds now buy 10,000 pounds, and we supply all the major companies and manufacturers. We are experiencing phenomenal growth,” says Crew.
The proof that hemp is not going away any time soon is the fact that in 2014 Hemp Oil Canada will move to a brand new, 35,000 square foot processing facility that will allow the company to increase its production by up to 600 per cent. “When you create a market, you also create a demand, and we have been running on full capacity for the past few years. The market and the demand are growing faster than we can build our new plant,” concluded Crew. While he remains reserved in forecasting the future of Hemp Oil Canada, the way the demand for hemp products moves, he expects additional year-over-year double digit growth, reaching growth between 30 and 60 per cent in the next few years.