Finding a niche for hemp oil

Kanapu Hemp Foods Limited launches cold-pressed oil made from hemp seeds.

Kanapu Hemp Foods Limited launches cold-pressed oil made from hemp seeds.

NICHE INDUSTRY: Gisborne entrepreneur Isaac Beach returned from an overseas hemp research trip in 2013 inspired to set up a niche industry for premium hemp products in Tairawhiti. His company, Kanapu Hemp Foods Limited, has launched its first product, a cold-pressed oil made from hemp seeds. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell
HIGH-END CUISINE: Several restaurants use Kanapu Hemp Oil in their meals, including Marina Restaurant in Gisborne. French chef Stephan Dussau uses the oil in pasta and risotto, and has developed a hemp jam with manuka honey. Picture supplied

A MICHELIN three-star restaurant might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of hemp, but it is in the sights of a Gisborne entrepreneur.

Isaac Beach has spent several years researching hemp products around the world.

Now his company Kanapu Hemp Foods Limited has launched its first product, a cold-pressed oil made from hemp seeds.

“Our philosophy is to sell less for more and create a high-value niche industry.

“Kanapu means thunder and lightning, but symbolises chieftainship. In our situation we strive for chieftainship in our food products.

“We don’t want people to only think about hemp plants any more. We want them to think about export opportunities and growth.”

While studying a masters in business administration at the University of Otago, the former Gisborne Boy’s High School student became immersed in negative statistics about low Maori achievement levels, particularly in Tairawhiti.

“I was hearing about poor housing, poor economics, poor education. I want to be an antagonist to those statistics by succeeding,” said Mr Beach, who is of Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu descent.

He started to research industrial hemp, its past uses and how it is used today.

“It really interested me. There are vehicle manufacturing companies using hemp as a primary resource for internal lining, housing developments with hemp cladding, all types of commercial applications for hemp.”

In 2013 he raised funds for a research trip to the United States, Canada, Holland, France and the United Kingdom to visit people who have operated commercially viable hemp businesses for years.

He returned motivated by the success of the industry overseas and set about developing his hemp business in Hawke’s Bay.

“In New Zealand our economy is primarily propped up by dairy and agriculture, so I was looking at something less intensive on the land that had value internationally.”

Kanapu Hemp Oil is stocked at Vetro in Gisborne and used at Marina Restaurant.

“The chef uses it in things like pasta and risotto, and he has developed a hemp jam with manuka honey.”

Another Gisborne chef, Kent Baddeley, lives in Hastings and owns Ten Twenty Four restaurant. He is involved in discovering new ways of using their product in high-end cuisine and giving advice on how to develop new and existing products.

The oil is intensely green, light in texture and has a nutty flavour. It can be taken in small doses daily by itself to realise the health benefits, or added to salads and meals after cooking.

“It is high in omega 3 and 6 and has health benefits including lowering the risk of heart disease, lowering cholesterol, is an anti-inflammatory, supports hormonal balance during PMS and menopause, and is good for skin and hair,” Mr Beach said.

The focus is high-end cuisine and they are looking at getting it into certain restaurants in Melbourne and, one day, a Michelin three-star restaurant.

“It would be amazing to get it into the hands of a chef of that capability.”

The hemp is grown in Hawke’s Bay at Otane. Their first crop was four hectares. Due to demand, they intend to plant 10ha in the upcoming season.

Hemp comes from the same plant family as marijuana and hops, Cannabinaceae, but it has such low levels of the psychoactive agent THC it is impossible to get a high.

The term “marijuana” refers to the medicinal, recreational or spiritual use of cannabis plants, which typically have more than 10 percent THC.

Zero THC

Industrial hemp in New Zealand is required to have a THC level of below 0.35 percent, and the plant Mr Beach has been growing has zero THC.

While the oil comes only from the seeds, the rest of the hemp plant is used for other products too, although they are still under wraps.

“We have a number of exciting products in the pipeline. Things you never would have thought you could have made from hemp seed.”

The Food Standards Authority (FSA) for New Zealand and Australia permits hemp seed oil to be used in foods, but later this month it is considering a proposal for hemp seeds to be permitted too.

Many other countries, including in Europe, Canada and the United States, permit hemp seed in a range of foods. It contains protein, vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.

“As economically crippling as it is toward progress in the hemp industry, it is important the FSA scientifically verify it is safe,” Mr Beach said.

“Health and wellbeing of our people should always be at the centre of these types of discussions. I am confident FSA will eventually permit hemp seed for manufacture of other hemp foods for sale in New Zealand.”

Success for Mr Beach is more than just personal gain.

“As a young Maori of Tairawhiti, I owe it to the community to be successful. Community, my whanau, hapu, iwi, Greg Mackle my principal at Boy’s High, university mentors, all had a big contribution in terms of my personal development to get me to where I am today. As young aspiring Maori we owe it to those who invested in our lives, to do well and contribute to sustainable economic development.

“I hope, if I succeed, it will rub off on others.”

A MICHELIN three-star restaurant might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of hemp, but it is in the sights of a Gisborne entrepreneur.

Isaac Beach has spent several years researching hemp products around the world.

Now his company Kanapu Hemp Foods Limited has launched its first product, a cold-pressed oil made from hemp seeds.

“Our philosophy is to sell less for more and create a high-value niche industry.

“Kanapu means thunder and lightning, but symbolises chieftainship. In our situation we strive for chieftainship in our food products.

“We don’t want people to only think about hemp plants any more. We want them to think about export opportunities and growth.”

While studying a masters in business administration at the University of Otago, the former Gisborne Boy’s High School student became immersed in negative statistics about low Maori achievement levels, particularly in Tairawhiti.

“I was hearing about poor housing, poor economics, poor education. I want to be an antagonist to those statistics by succeeding,” said Mr Beach, who is of Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu descent.

He started to research industrial hemp, its past uses and how it is used today.

“It really interested me. There are vehicle manufacturing companies using hemp as a primary resource for internal lining, housing developments with hemp cladding, all types of commercial applications for hemp.”

In 2013 he raised funds for a research trip to the United States, Canada, Holland, France and the United Kingdom to visit people who have operated commercially viable hemp businesses for years.

He returned motivated by the success of the industry overseas and set about developing his hemp business in Hawke’s Bay.

“In New Zealand our economy is primarily propped up by dairy and agriculture, so I was looking at something less intensive on the land that had value internationally.”

Kanapu Hemp Oil is stocked at Vetro in Gisborne and used at Marina Restaurant.

“The chef uses it in things like pasta and risotto, and he has developed a hemp jam with manuka honey.”

Another Gisborne chef, Kent Baddeley, lives in Hastings and owns Ten Twenty Four restaurant. He is involved in discovering new ways of using their product in high-end cuisine and giving advice on how to develop new and existing products.

The oil is intensely green, light in texture and has a nutty flavour. It can be taken in small doses daily by itself to realise the health benefits, or added to salads and meals after cooking.

“It is high in omega 3 and 6 and has health benefits including lowering the risk of heart disease, lowering cholesterol, is an anti-inflammatory, supports hormonal balance during PMS and menopause, and is good for skin and hair,” Mr Beach said.

The focus is high-end cuisine and they are looking at getting it into certain restaurants in Melbourne and, one day, a Michelin three-star restaurant.

“It would be amazing to get it into the hands of a chef of that capability.”

The hemp is grown in Hawke’s Bay at Otane. Their first crop was four hectares. Due to demand, they intend to plant 10ha in the upcoming season.

Hemp comes from the same plant family as marijuana and hops, Cannabinaceae, but it has such low levels of the psychoactive agent THC it is impossible to get a high.

The term “marijuana” refers to the medicinal, recreational or spiritual use of cannabis plants, which typically have more than 10 percent THC.

Zero THC

Industrial hemp in New Zealand is required to have a THC level of below 0.35 percent, and the plant Mr Beach has been growing has zero THC.

While the oil comes only from the seeds, the rest of the hemp plant is used for other products too, although they are still under wraps.

“We have a number of exciting products in the pipeline. Things you never would have thought you could have made from hemp seed.”

The Food Standards Authority (FSA) for New Zealand and Australia permits hemp seed oil to be used in foods, but later this month it is considering a proposal for hemp seeds to be permitted too.

Many other countries, including in Europe, Canada and the United States, permit hemp seed in a range of foods. It contains protein, vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.

“As economically crippling as it is toward progress in the hemp industry, it is important the FSA scientifically verify it is safe,” Mr Beach said.

“Health and wellbeing of our people should always be at the centre of these types of discussions. I am confident FSA will eventually permit hemp seed for manufacture of other hemp foods for sale in New Zealand.”

Success for Mr Beach is more than just personal gain.

“As a young Maori of Tairawhiti, I owe it to the community to be successful. Community, my whanau, hapu, iwi, Greg Mackle my principal at Boy’s High, university mentors, all had a big contribution in terms of my personal development to get me to where I am today. As young aspiring Maori we owe it to those who invested in our lives, to do well and contribute to sustainable economic development.

“I hope, if I succeed, it will rub off on others.”

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