Canah International has seen demand for its hempseed products boom in the past few years. Ingredients Insight talks to Daniela Sfrija, the firm's managing partner, about the unique health benefits of hempseed products, and the pride it takes in using traditional processing methods.
Daniela Sfrija: The typical whole hempseed contains about 35% unsaturated fats, 25% protein and 27% fibres (soluble and insoluble), plus a considerable number of vitamins and minerals. 80% of the hempseed oil consists of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids (EFAs), including the two most important ones: linoleic acid (LA; about 60% LA omega-6) and linolenic acid (LNA; about 20% LNA or alpha-linolenic acid omega-3).
Hempseed oil is one of the few food oils that contains direct metabolites of LA and LNA, from which the most important are gamma-linolenic acid from LA and stearidonic acid from LNA.
Furthermore, the protein content in hempseed has a special composition, with 65% of it coming in the form of globulin protein edestin, while the other 35% is albumin, a high-quality globular protein. Both are rich in essential amino acids, and easily digested and assimilated by the human body. Compared with protein from other sources, hemp protein is superior in several aspects: it is plant-based and non-allergenic, and does not contain phytoestrogens.
At Canah, quality is our main and permanent objective, and, with over a decade of experience in hempseed processing, our level of specialisation is high. We believe that hempseed is a precious gift from nature and, therefore, try to get the best out of it for our customers. We take pride in the fact that the methods we use to press, mill and dehull the seeds are traditional. To produce oil, we cold-press our seeds. We prepare our protein powder by stone-milling the seeds and we use a mechanical dehuller to make our hulled seeds.
Another advantage we have at Canah is our fully integrated production process. We keep all of our production lines under one roof, which allows us to offer greater flexibility in planning and an optimum use of the raw materials we have to hand. We've consistently invested in our equipment and processes over the years, and have attained important quality certifications. We hold ISO 22000 from TUV Rheinland, and we are certified organic and kosher.
When we began operating in 2007, there was no market for hemp food products in Europe, with hemp mainly being cultivated for plant fibre; its seeds were usually used for bird feed. We were one of the first processors of hempseed in Europe and, together with other players, we have invested in developing the market. We have built long-term partnerships with our clients, who create products using hempseed as key ingredients.
Hemp food products have since found their place in the superfoods market and, today, are used as ingredients in more sophisticated food products, food supplements and cosmetics. The hemp food market is entering a new stage of development now, driven by increasing demand. New players are planning to invest in hempseed processing at different points in the business, and farmers in Europe have shown an increased interest for hemp cultivation. The European market has attracted hemp food products from Canada and China.
As such, we anticipate increased pressure on prices and a higher demand for quality products. Players' positioning in the competitive landscape will improve when the hemp industry sees quality parameters reach a certain level of standardisation.
An important role in this standardisation process - and in the creation of a clear and uniform legal framework at EU level - is played by the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), which brings together farmers, processing companies, equipment suppliers, investors and experts. Canah International is proud to be a member of the EIHA board of directors. In this position, it is supporting the development of the hemp industry in Europe and, indirectly, worldwide.