HIA 2004 Convention Report
Gathering in San Francisco, California for the 11th Annual Convention, members of the Hemp Industries Association experienced encouragement about the success of every aspect of the hemp business. Seventy-two people attended meetings, dinners and parties over the three day event. And twenty hemp companies exhibited at the Green Festival during the weekend. It was educational and inspiring!
The HIA Board of Directors had a meeting Tuesday, Nov. 2nd and the following day more hemp enthusiasts arrived for a reception in the HIA suite at the hotel. That night, at the Stinking Rose Restaurant, we dined and honored two members with Hemp Achievement Awards. Excellence in Textiles was given to Barbara Filippone of Enviro Textiles, and an award for Excellence in Apparel Manufacturing and maintaining one of the oldest hemp retail stores was given to Marie and Teresa Mills of The Hemp Connection. Congratulations!
On Thursday, Nov. 4th we met for the HIA Annual General Meeting at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, where Silent Auction donations were displayed along with Exhibits from companies. The newly elected Directors were announced: David Bronner, Shaun Crew (Vice President), John Dvorak (Treasurer), Rob Jungmann, and Ruth Shamai. Johanna Schultz was appointed to the HIA Board, replacing Don Wirtshafter who resigned. She will be the new PR Director, answering the HIA phones and emails beginning in January.
They join continuing Directors Steve Levine (President), David Frankel, Lenda Hand, and Mike Sutherland. The Advisory Board has been expanded to include nominees and special project managers, including Carson Thomas, who will be sending invoices for membership renewals, and Amie Nguyen, Merchandise Manager. The Retail Committee is being energized with the help of Rob Jungmann who will be promoting the HIA 10% Discount program and a cooperative buying campaign will be launched to purchase bio bags again. Plans to set up an exchange/overstock program this next year were also discussed.
Georgia Malki of Seven Star Events, producers of the Green Festivals, spoke about hemp’s role in greening trade shows. They plan to use hemp for booth curtains and table covers, as well as signage.
The HIA Legal Team: Patrick Goggin, David Bronner, Eric Steenstra, David Frankel, and Don Wirtshafter spoke about the extremely satisfying fact that we beat the DEA! A standing ovation for the team and supporting companies was well deserved. Thanks to Mintwood Media, Adam Eidinger and Alexis Baden-Mayer, the press learned of our victory. And their work on the Air Force tanning lotion issue is greatly appreciated. A clip from NBC TV Channel 5 was shown, as an example of the press gained. Eric Steenstra also reported on the Zogby Poll commissioned by VoteHemp, which shows support for growing industrial hemp in America – the next extreme challenge for the industry!
We heard about the hemp foods and body care market today and projections for the future. David Bronner reported on the recently commissioned Spins Report, which showed an amazing 66.3% increase in sales of hemp foods this year. And body care had an 11.9% increase. These figures are from supermarket sales (and only about 1/3 of the retail market), and do not include bulk sales, like Nature’s Path Granola. French Meadow Bakery’s Healthy Hemp Sprouted Bread is the number one selling hemp food product. Shaun Crew of Hemp Oil Canada and Ruth Shamai of Ruth’s Hemp Foods shared their successes and challenges in the food industry. H.O.C. had run at a loss for four years and is now experiencing a great surge of sales and looks forward to profit this year with a growth rate projected at 50% to 75%. About seventy percent of the crop is organic as a result of consumer demand. A Canadian Olympian track star has been using Ruth’s new protein powder and has seen excellent results. Ruth’s Hemp-Flax-Maca protein powder was selected by fifty retailers at the Natural Products Expo East as one of the five best supplements. Ruth’s bars are the most widely sold of her line of twenty-two products. Expanding in the US market is crucial for Canadian companies, and orders increased immediately after the case was settled.
Lip balm was poorly affected by the DEA threats, and lotions and shampoos were also slowed. But that looks to be turning around now too. A Hemp Victory booth was featured at Expo West in Anaheim, which helped open the market, because continuing education for buyers is key. Sue Kastensen announced her partnership with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps to expand Sun Dog and make products organic. Gero Leson, of Leson Environmental Consulting, coordinated the two research projects used in the DEA court case. Three new projects in research and development, including protein investigation and comparison, are currently being planned. Companies are encouraged to donate money for the studies, which will be extremely valuable to the global hemp industry.
Barbara Filippone of EnviroTextiles and Michael Sutherland of PeoplesHemp.com spoke about Hemp Textiles: the range of products, the latest developments, and the potential for growth. Barbara announced that hemp cloth diapers are a big growth sector, and the US Hockey League is now buying hemp t-shirts. Even police academies are testing hemp shirts to protect officers from odor and rashes under their body armor. After eight years of working with the fabric mills, Barbara warned people to be cautious of organic claims regarding cotton fabrics, since it may be grown organically, but processing and finishing may not be organic. Also, cotton depletes the soil and uses a lot of water. Studies have shown hemp fabric to be anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. (Whereas cotton encourages such growth.) Even more amazing are scientific results regarding hemp killing micro-organisms such as staph and herpes simplex! Barbara is developing a program to label hemp products using the trade marked phrase, Sustainable Biodegradable Product, or SBP. An active focus on textiles this next year will begin with the set up of a buyer’s showroom in Los Angeles, featuring hemp apparel and fabric manufacturers and importers. Howard Gabe will bring his thirty years of experience to this project coordination, which will include advertising in the three primary fashion publications, which will be instrumental in getting retail buyers into the Hemp Showroom.
Carolyn Moran and Bob Frankel of Living Tree Paper Co. educated us about the use of hemp and recycled content paper in many new applications. All pulp is now sourced in North America. The music industry is especially interested and the art community is happy to use the chlorine free, alkaline art papers. Specialty papers are the biggest market for hemp. A long list of universities and companies have signed on to the movement. Environmental packaging is also an ongoing project. Adding a printing service has cut down on shipping, saving money and the environment. Movie and music posters are another sector contributing to growing sales. Knowing how to sell to the green market gives an important edge, and this comes down to education about resources and processes utilized.
Don E. Wirtshafter lectured on Hemp vs. Pot, explaining the differences and relationship between CBD and THC. Two genes are responsible for levels in cannabis. High THC creates medical varieties and high CBD creates industrial strains. Twenty years of good breeding by European scientists helped the regulatory standards become established in the industry. Testing done by the seed breeders will continue, and thus will not be necessary in the field. Genetically altering the shape of the leaf and other efforts are not needed. Testing technology is improving in the areas of expense and ease of use, and current techniques work well. We have an opportunity to be involved in the review of Health Canada regulations, so some easement may be forthcoming. The question of growing these two distinct crops in close proximity was discussed, with some solutions and current models presented.
A panel on International Affairs featured Shaun Crew, President of the CHTA. The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance recently held a meeting in Manitoba. Canada grew 8500 acres this year, but with the rapid expansion of the market they will have to save enough seed to increase acreage next year. With drought last year and too much rain this year it is hoped that next year will be a bumper crop. Dave Marcus spoke about the Ontario Hemp Alliance Seed Breeding Project, directed by Gordon Scheifele. Crucial donations are needed now. Hempola Valley Farms is featured at this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair where there is a new section named ‘Food to Your Good Health! Mike Fata of Manitoba Harvest earned the prestigious “Young Entrepreneur Award” this year. Stephen Meyer, of Switzerland invited us all to attend Cannatrade, the only European cannabis trade show to include a large number of industrial hemp exhibitors. Mike Sutherland spoke about changes in China and the importance of working with the country to help with environmental and social justice issues. The government has officially recognized the growth of the hemp industry and is more seriously expanding textiles, hemp fiber pulp for newsprint, and seed crops for the shelled hempseed market. Hemp Traders is importing fiber board from China now to supply the building sector.
Shaun Crew, Hemp Oil Canada (a potential buyer for Lakota hemp seed) spoke about the sovereign tribal right to grow hemp and the economic potential of hemp for the Lakota Nation and other indigenous tribes.
Additionally, Friday, November 5th featured more networking and set up for the Green Festival. A Vote Hemp board meeting was held, planning for the next two years and developing a budget and fundraising ideas.