So, you’ve bought a package of hemp seeds from Whole Foods Market a few times. You may even be burning a candle infused with hemp extract and some sweet-smelling essential oils right now. And, just last week, you spotted CBD-based lotion and body butter at your local Farmer’s Market. You don’t know exactly when these hemp-derived products entered the scene, and you definitely don’t know the scope of the hemp industry. But, one thing is blatantly obvious to you–these products are gaining swift popularity. Let us take you on a journey of why the hemp industry–bringing in $744.1 million in 2021–has become so popular and why it seems to be here to stay. You’ll learn how versatile hemp is (some of these uses will surprise you) and the numerous health benefits it’s been touted for. You’ll also see where each market is headed.
The main food product made from the hemp plant is hemp seeds. They are rich in protein, fiber, magnesium, and healthy fatty acids. Folks who eat gluten-free or have other digestive issues can partake of these seeds without worry. These seeds are commonly sprinkled on salads, blended in fruit smoothies, and mixed into granola bars. They can even be pressed into a dairy alternative. Hemp grown for food products accounts for about 17% of the hemp industry’s revenue in 2021.
Dietary supplements give people added nutrition and are typically bought by health enthusiasts and active people. Hemp-based supplements target health, mood, stress, and anxiety. This product segment accounts for about 5% of industry revenue in 2021.
Hemp-based Cannabidiol (CBD)
It’s no secret that CBD is taking America by storm. Made from the leaves and stems of the hemp plant, this anti-inflammatory substance has been said to have therapeutic and health benefits. Many people take it to treat tumors, reduce the risk of diabetes, and relieve stiffness and pain. It has also been said to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and help treat epilepsy and mental disorders. Some medical professionals prescribe it to patients who react negatively to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This segment is the largest contributor to revenue; it accounts for about 23% of industry revenue in 2021.
Personal Care Products
Hemp-based personal care products increase hydration–a useful benefit for those suffering with skin conditions such as eczema, dryness, and psoriasis. Seth, the founder of Muddy Boot Botanicals, shares his story about psoriasis here. In addition to treating dryness, these products have been said to treat acne and provide an anti-aging solution. Personal Care Products include:
- Acne scrubs
- Lip balms
- Styling gels
- Hand creams
This segment is the 2nd largest in the industry, representing 22% of industry revenue in 2021. It is expected to grow in the coming years.
Dating back to 2,800 BCE, hemp cultivation for fiber has its beginnings in China. Hemp fiber is durable, absorbent, and resistant to UV-rays and mold. When made into fabric, it is more insulating than cotton and is highly breathable and biodegradable. Textiles include:
- Artificial sponges
This product segment accounts for 13% of the industry’s revenue in 2021 and is expected to grow over the coming years.
In addition to the textiles segment, you might also be surprised to learn that hemp has industrial applications. Hemp can be used as an alternative to wood pulp in the paper-making process. Hemp fiber can create bioplastics that are recyclable and biodegradable. Hempcrete is an alternative to concrete that is composed of hemp and a lime binder; it can be used for non-load-bearing applications. Industrial Applications include:
- Paper products
- Sanitary items
- Biodegradable products
- Alternative to fiberglass insulation
This segment accounts for about 18% of the industry in 2021 and is expected to grow as consumers become more environmentally-friendly.
The hemp industry is broken down into a handful of markets that account for various amounts of the industry’s revenue. Let’s take a brief look at each of these markets and see what their expectations for growth are like.
The Processing Market processes raw hemp into industrial and consumer products like textiles and soap. This market accounts for a whopping 40.7% of industry revenue in 2021–this makes it the largest market in the hemp industry. Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp-growing, this segment has experienced large increases.
The Pharmaceutical Market makes CBD oil for use in medications using raw hemp. It accounts for about 12.5% of revenue in 2021 and is expected to increase over the next five years.
Specialty Retailers Market
Specialty Retailers include smoke shops but not legal marijuana dispensaries. This market sells CBD oil and products, consumer care products, and industrial products. It accounts for 24.4% of industry revenue in 2021.
Accounting for about 15.8% of industry revenue in 2021, this market involves the sale of products directly to consumers that is usually done via the internet and e-commerce. This segment is expected to grow over the next five years to 2026.
The slimmest of all markets, the Export Market accounts for only .5% of revenue in 2021. This is due to legality issues concerning exporting hemp that contains more than .3% of THC (the active and illegal ingredient in marijuana).
This market segment includes healthcare practitioners, legal marijuana dispensaries, and mass merchandisers. It accounts for the remaining 6.1% of industry revenue in 2021. These smaller markets are prone to fluctuation and are expected to continue so over the next five years to 2026.
A Labor of Love
Based on the product and market information above, you can see that the hemp industry is in a season of growth. When the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp production, the industry boomed as companies rushed to take advantage of the high demand for hemp products.
But, the result was an oversupply of hemp and, thus, declining hemp prices. Additionally, it costs quite a bit to operate a hemp farm. Most farms don’t have the equipment to efficiently plant and harvest hemp, and even if they did, hemp planting is a delicate process that requires high labor costs. If that struggle wasn’t enough, there are only 57 labs approved for THC testing which makes it difficult to quickly market hemp. So, these lowered product prices, high operating costs, and high regulations filter out companies just trying to make a quick buck from those who labor for the love of hemp and the well-being of people.
Muddy Boot Botanicals is a laborer of love. We battle endless downpours and muddy puddles in Oregon’s Willamette valley to harvest, craft, and package exceptional CBD products. They are made with high-quality ingredients and are backed by independent lab results and well-researched science. Our products are effective, affordable, and ready to be part of your daily routine!
About the Author
Diana Faruqui is an English major at the University of Central Florida. Learn more about Diana at https://dianafaruqui.wixsite.com/diana-faruqui.