Beyond CBD - Hemp Fibre to Weave the Future of Industrial Hemp
After the 2018 Farm Bill legislation in the US that legally approves hemp production, hemp cultivation for cannabidiol (CBD) is booming. Facts state that the licensed acreage of hemp witnessed a whopping 2000% rise between 2017 and 2020, a majority of which dedicatedly wended its way to production of CBD, and hemp fibre represented a mere 3% of it by 2020 end. However, CBD constantly faces the fear of oversupply due to bullish acreage, which might even be followed by a boom-and-bust cycle in long term. On the flipside, still in its infancy, the global hemp fibre market is shaping up relatively well in 2021. Besides the environmentally sustainable nature, and endurance, the excellent tensile strength, durability, skin-friendly and comfortable attributes, breathability, and UV resistance of hemp fibre are expected to heavily contribute towards its swelling market potential. With the hemp industry taking off at a spectacular pace, stakeholders look to the various commercial application possibilities to cash in on. Researchers strongly affirm that the crop holds exceptional commercial potential, and industrial hemp is in fact way beyond just the cannabis craze. It proves to be more profitable when compared with traditional row crops, and eliminates the risk of oversupply due to the fact that potential customers would think in terms of tons unlike the situation in case of CBD (kg).
Hemp Fibre Adoption to Proliferate as a Green Building Material
The multifarious application segments of bast hemp fibres include plastic bio-composites for paper, bags, clothing, textiles, footwear, insulation materials, and automobiles. Hurd fibres, on the other hand, find application in areas like building and construction materials, absorbents, and bedding materials. With the green building concept firming up, and experiencing heightening acceptance, hempcrete - a hemp fibre-based concrete-like building material is foreseen to gather the industry’s attention. Hemp has been extending its reach to cover many more other segments like agriculture, furniture, and even bioplastics, and biofuels. The strength, stiffness, and favourable mechanical properties of hemp fibres are also gaining traction as a reinforcement among composite materials manufacturers. However, the hemp fibre market stands with an anticipated delayed development, considering the lengthy lifecycle of the crop, lack of specifications, standardisation, and processing capacities in the overall hemp industry. The market also continues to await an established, consistent, and functionally viable supply chain, and a prudent, dependable distribution network.
Textiles Industry, and Fashion Apparel Segments Witness an Emergence of a Sought-after ‘Super’fibre
Hemp fibre is increasingly being looked at as a substitute natural fibre product as the biodegradability concerns around synthetic fibres continue to be a pressing issue worldwide. Moreover, the significantly reducing plastic consumption is clearing way for natural fibre alternatives in the market. Although cotton has been the undisputed ruler in this category, the kind of pricing volatility that cotton cultivators have been seeing over the past decade is demanding increased reliance on an alternative crop such as hemp. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicates that the US cotton prices witnessed a ten-year high per pound in 2011, whereas a ten-year low per pound in 2020. On the other side, coarse wool also witnessed the heaviest price reduction in 2020. Hemp is thus being proposed as a substitute, and is expected to deliver dramatic outcomes if used as a blend with coarse wool. Industrial hemp fibre is potentially a sustainable, and economically viable natural fibre alternative in the long run. While hemp has been a natural fibre used in clothing, and textiles since centuries, it always lacked the kind of wearability, and comfort that mass markets often demand, and run on. The technology meant for conversion of hemp fibres into desirable textiles is among the relatively recent innovations. Today, these lignin-enriched natural fibres are highly desirable in among the textiles industry, the fashion apparel world, and the nonwovens segment as a preferred choice of a premium consumer class that is environmentally supportive, and picks natural, and sustainable over anything else in vogue.
China Top Hemp Textiles Exporter; Adoption of Hemp Fibre Escalates in the US
China, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, Canada, Chile, and Egypt have been some of the prominent industrial hemp producing countries, of which China, and Canada are leading their way to becoming the frontrunners in exploring hemp usage for virtually endless commercial applications. China, the earliest investor in hemp fibre, remains the world’s top hemp textiles exporter as it has had structured, well-planned investments in the market since more than decade now. Under its 13th five-year plan, China is set to cultivate more than 3 million acres of fibre hemp by 2030, specifically targeting the textiles industry. The country also targets hemp fibre production for biocomposites. Whereas, Canada tops in hemp seed products supplies. In key European countries, automotive applications register sizeable hemp consumption. On the other side, considering the lightning pace at which the US clothing and apparel companies are turning to hemp fibre, hemp clothing sector with the Made-in-America tag will most likely flourish in the near future. Raw hemp fibre imports to the US saw over 2x expansion over 2018 - 2019, as indicated by the Office of Textiles and Apparel (the US Department of Commerce). Companies here are pushing investments in building up a feasible supply chain, following the adoption of necessary hemp fibre processing infrastructure.
Recent Notable Developments in Hemp Fibre Landscape
Some of the global behemoths have already hit the bandwagon. Besides those covered below, brands like Georgia-Pacific, and Patagonia have initiated their hemp fibre-based productions.
Key Participants in Global Hemp Fibre Market
American Hemp LLC, HempFlax BV, Forever Green, HempAge AG, The Natural Fiber Company, Hempfortex, Shaanxi Greenland, Kingdom Holdings, HMI Group, CanvaLoop Fibre Private Limited, Hempco, Hemp Inc., Hempco, GenCanna, and Global Hemp Solutions constitute some of the active entities participating in the various segments of the hemp fibre market.