North America’s National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) estimates U.S. exports of hemp and hemp-derived products topped $1.8 billion in 2020, up from $310 million in 2019.
It was a pretty solid result given pandemic related challenges, reduced acreage and some ongoing regulatory uncertainty. The organisation estimates global trade in industrial hemp and derived products was worth over $8.1 billion in 2020 – so the USA had a significant chunk of the pie.
NIHC Chief Economist Beau Whitney says licensed acreage in the USA totalled 495,787 acres in 2020; down from 511,442 acres in 2019 – but this was still nearly four times the acres licensed in 2018. While licensed acreage was down, the number of licensed growers exceeded 21,000; up more than 27% from 16,877 licensed growers in 2019.
Industrial hemp for seed (grain) production looks set to see major growth. Currently accounting for approximately 15 percent of acreage, the organisation says industry forecasts are that seed demand will continue to strengthen and will represent 65 percent of production acreage by 2030.
As for hemp for cannabidiol and other cannabinoids, that is put at 82% of acreage as at last year and forecast to plummet to just 2.8% in 2030. In terms of hemp fiber, 2020’s acreage allocation was estimated at 5% and will grow to 31.4% in 2030.
So, it appears cannabidiol/cannabinoids will go from being the star attraction to bit player in a reasonably short space of time.
As for the export outlook, NIHC predicts U.S. exports of industrial hemp products will be worth more than $21 billion by 2026.
However, there are issues that could get in the way of achieving this.
“Export opportunities depend on regulatory certainty and the U.S. faces regulatory challenges in this area,” says NIHC. “One challenge is the delayed guidance from U.S. FDA on how CBD is treated in the food, supplement and nutraceutical markets; this despite NIHC’s ongoing discussions with FDA about the importance of regulatory certainty.”
The National Industrial Hemp Council is a nationwide trade association representing the U.S. industrial hemp industry supply chain – from farmers to processors to brands and retailers, and end users/consumers.
More from the NIHC’s update can be viewed here.