This article is re-printed from the State of Hemp market report with permission from Hemp Biz Journal.

A green wave of opportunity is sweeping America—and it shows no sign of stopping. Hemp Biz Journal estimates that the U.S. hemp industry reached $593 million in sales in 2015 and project it to reach $1.8 billion by 2020. Hemp industry insiders say they’ve seen this coming for the better part of a decade. With hemp growing legally in 26 countries, the U.S. has lagged the global hemp market, embroiled in a prohibition dating back to the 1930s. Spurred by legislative changes and a more tolerant political climate for cannabis, states like Colorado, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina are starting to see their memories of hemp prohibition fade away. Now the young U.S. hemp market is experiencing a new set of problems: growing pains.

With these growing pains comes the opportunity for entrepreneurship, investment and innovation for hemp cultivation, hemp manufacturers andthe US economy at large. Driven by a competitive American culture, a good old-fashioned work ethic, and a strong agricultural backbone, the U.S. hemp industry is poised to deliver on a century of promises to become a billion-dollar industry.

This means more jobs and opportunities across the entire hemp value chain. With full federal legal commercial cultivation and processing all but imminent for the U.S. hemp industry, the dialogue among hemp CEOs and thought leaders has shifted from how we legalize hemp to how we nurture this young industry and use it as a stabilizing force for the U.S. economy.

The Economic Data of the Hemp Industry

Hemp Biz Journal research showed consumer sales of hemp products rose to $400 million in 2014, up 33 percent over a year earlier. The market continued at a similar pace for 2015 and is poised for tremendous growth in several consumer categories in the not too distant future.

According to the Hemp Industries Association, the industrial product sector was led by automotive composites with nearly $100 million in sales. Hemp Biz Journal estimates that by 2020, industrial products including automotive, green building, oil well liners, and non woven or technical fibers will storm the market and contribute 32% of overall hemp consumer sales, up from 20% in 2015. The U.S. hemp industry will grow from a niche industry filled with activists and startups to a nationally recognized market expected to reach $1.8 billion in sales in 2020. In all, the U.S. hemp market will be a catalyst for innovation and spur growth across the broader global market. Truly, these are exciting times filled with potential and opportunity. Now that the seeds are planted, it’s on all of us to grow the industry we’ve imagined.

HBJ showed sales of hemp based products like automotive parts, oil well linings, insulation, fiberglass, biofuels, bio-plastics and animal bedding and feed accounted for about $116 million in sales in 2015, and is projected to skyrocket to approximately $575 million by 2020. This growth will be highly dependent upon increased domestic hemp production and the addition of the appropriate processing facilities located stateside.

By the numbers: the U.S. Hemp Industry Today

While the global hemp industry races ahead, the emerging U.S. hemp industry is reaching a tipping point. The federal government now allows farmers to partner with state agriculture departments and institutions of higher learning to plant “pilot project” test crops on U.S. soil. Over the last decade, a small hemp market has developed in the U.S. that has relied on imported hemp —both finished goods and raw materials.

These hemp-based goods have largely consisted of personal care products, foods and textiles, which currently account for almost two-thirds of the U.S. hemp industry’s total sales, or $340 million in consumer sales in 2015. HBJ estimates that hemp-based food product sales accounted for 15 percent of hemp consumer sales in the U.S. in 2015. Sales reached $90M in 2015, with hemp seeds and hemp milk being among the most popular categories. While the hemp food market has grown tremendously over the last few years, nearly doubling since 2012, it is still a small segment of the natural foods industry. According to Nutrition Business Journal, total sales of natural and organic foods in the U.S. reached $70 billion in 2015, which equates to a nascent penetration of about one-tenth of a percent for hemp foods. This penetration is highest in the snack food category, where the popularity of hemp seeds has allowed close to a 1 percent penetration.

The natural and specialty retail channel, including chains such as Whole Foods Market and Sprouts Farmers Market as well as thousands of small health food stores, is currently the most popular place to purchase hemp food products, with HBJ estimating that this channel contributed approximately 70 percent of sales this year. Because food is one of the more established segments in the hemp market, HBJ projects average annual growth of hemp foods to be 16 percent for 2015-2020, which is slower than many of the emerging hemp industry segments but slightly above the natural and organic food market as a whole.

A wide array of personal care products with hemp on the ingredient panel are currently in the market, from hair care to lotions, bath soap to deodorant. Because of hemp’s antibacterial properties, soaps with hemp are the most popular personal care category. The quantity of hemp may not always be very large in these products, but they reflect growing interest in the benefits of hemp in personal care products. Hemp Biz Journal estimates that hemp personal care product sales nearly reached $150 million in sales on 10% growth. This is relative to the entire natural and organic personal care market, which is estimated by Nutrition Business Journal to be $12.5 billion. The hemp consumer textiles industry, including apparel items and household products like purses and backpacks, is projected to contribute close to $100 million in consumer sales to the hemp market in 2015. By contrast, the Organic Trade Association estimated that all U.S. consumer organic textile sales reached $1.1 billion in 2014. Beyond food, personal care andtextiles, hemp-based supplements are also gaining popularity with consumers.

Dietary supplements that include hemp (but are not CBD concentrates) posted $47 million in consumer sales in 2015 on 6 percent growth. The majority of these products are either hemp oils or meal supplement products that include hemp protein powder. The rising popularity of hemp protein is tied closely to the rising popularity of healthier, vegan protein offerings in sports nutrition and meal supplement products. The hemp supplement market is currently very small compared to the overall supplement market, which according to Nutrition Business Journal will reach $38.6 billion in 2015 on 5 percent growth. Other consumer products that contain hemp include pet food and supplements, household cleaners, cigarette paper, traditional paper products and jewelry and craft items such as twine. These other products contributed between $10 million and $15 million to
the hemp industry in 2015 and remain the smallest product niches. HBJ predicts sales of hemp based industrial, composites and CBD products will post the strongest growth over the next five years.

Interest in CBD extracted from hemp is on the rise, thanks in large part to the fast paced growth of the legalized adult use cannabis industry. Hemp experts see the market for industrial hemp as potentially greater than that for consumer adult use cannabis sales driven by the DEA rescheduling from Schedule I to Schedule II. This rescheduling will have an enormous impact on the hemp industry, and healthcare industry at large.

The Hemp Biz Journal estimates the size of the Hemp CBD market alone to have risen from a market that didn’t exist a few short years ago to an $85 million market in 2015. We expect growth in sales of these products will be one of the primary drivers of the broader hemp industry, with a compound annual growth rate of 33 percent forecast for 2015-2020.

The U.S Hemp industry is poised for tremendous growth that will fuel a green, sustainable revolution for the U.S. agriculture and healthcare industries. We look forward to helping hemp stabilize the U.S. economy for decades to come.

About Hemp Biz Journal:
Hemp Biz Journal is the premiere source of hemp industry market data and intelligence. The company published the State of Hemp and CBD Report, the definitive reports on the Hemp Industry and the emerging CBD segment. Learn more at http://HempBizJournal.com

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