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Publication Title | The European Hemp Industry Cultivation, processing and applications for fibres, shivs and seeds

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The European Hemp Industry:

Cultivation, processing and applications for fibres, shivs and seeds

Authors:

Michael Carus, Stefan Karst, Alexandre Kauffmann, John Hobson and Sylvestre Bertucelli

March 2013, Update June 2013

Hemp is a multi-purpose crop delivering fibres, shivs and seed. The fibre is used today for cigarette paper, insulation material and biocomposites. The shivs, the woody inner core of the stem, are used for animal bedding and construction. Hemp seeds, small nuts, have a high nutritional value, Hemp oil has an excellent and unique fatty acid profile. Both seeds and oil are used for human food and animal feed.

Industrial hemp has been grown in Europe for many hundreds of years. Through the Middle Ages and until the end of the sailing ship period Hemp was an important crop in many European countries like The UK, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy. Most important applications for the strong fibre were canvas for sails, sacks, canvas water hoses and fabrics as well as ropes.

Today Hemp is a niche crop, cultivated on 10,000 to 15,000 ha in the European Union. Because of its unique properties, particularly its environmental benefits and the high yield of natural technical fibres, hemp is a valuable crop for the bio-based economy.

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) conducted in summer 2012 the first comprehensive survey on cultivation, processing and especially applications of hemp fibres, shivs and seeds. It is the most detailed market analysis of European Hemp ever carried out. This reports presents the main results of the survey.

Basic data on cultivation and processing

The survey covers the harvest of 2010, related to a total cultivation area of 10,480 ha and 14 Hemp processing companies, as well as two associations of Hemp processing companies. In the official EU statistics 10,617 ha are shown for the cultivation year 2010 – that would mean that the survey covers 98.7% of the EU cultivation area. The first figure shows the development of the cultivation area since 1993. Between 1993 and 1996 the cultivation of industrial Hemp was legalised in most of the member states, some followed later. In 2011 the cultivation area decreased to its lowest value since 1994 (ca. 8,000 ha), but increased in 2012 again to 14,000 ha. That means that the Hemp cultivation area in the EU over the last ten years was between 10,000 and 15,000 ha, except 2003 (18,000 ha) and 2011 (8,000 ha). The main cultivation member states are France, The UK and The Netherlands. Since 2011 Hemp cultivation in Germany has virtually ceased because the main processor moved to France due to strong land competition from highly supported bioenergy and biofuel crops in Germany.

EIHA 2013-06 - 1 -

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