Report Highlights 2016’s Booming Retail Hemp Industry

An American advocacy organization focused on changing federal and state laws to allow commercial hemp farming has released retail sales estimates for 2016.

Today, Vote Hemp revealed its estimates for total retail sales of hemp food, supplements, and body care products in the United States.

A Growing Industry

Vote Hemp says that sales of hemp items like milk, shelled seeds, soaps, and lotions have continued to increase alongside successful hemp cultivation pilot programs and increased grassroots pressure to allow domestic hemp farming on a commercial scale.

Together with Hemp Business Journal, Vote Hemp says it also reviewed clothing, auto parts, building materials, and other assorted product sales.

“The hemp industry is being lead by the Natural Products channel,” says Hemp Business Journal Founder Sean Murphy. “Food and personal care categories have traditionally lead the industry and continued to do so in 2016. The emergence of Hemp CBD—a category growing at 53%–drove the hemp industry to a total market size of $688 million.”

According to Vote Hemp estimates, the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2016 was at least $688 million.

2016 Hemp Retail Sales Estimates:

Hemp foods – 19% ($129.3 million)
Personal care products – 24% ($163 million)
Textiles – 14% ($99.5 million)
Hemp-derived CBD products – 19% ($130 million)
Hemp dietary supplements – 4% ($26 million)
Industrial applications – 18% ($125.5 million)
Other products – 2% ($14.4 million)

“Hemp Business Journal estimates $130 million in hemp industry sales is from the Hemp CBD category, nearly 20% of the market,” says Murphy. “This category is being driven by channel sales in the Natural Products Industry, smoke shops, and online verticals, with pharmaceutical players quickly moving into position to capture market share.”

Research Data

Vote Hemp says market research firm SPINS collected the sales data from natural and conventional retailers, excluding Whole Foods Market, Costco, Alfalfa’s Market, and others who do not provide sales data.

As a result, Vote Hemp says the sales estimates are significantly lower than the actual numbers.

According to SPINS, sales in conventional retailers grew by 36.54 percent in 2016, but sales in natural retailers grew by 11.64 percent.

Still, Vote Hemp says natural and conventional hemp sales continue steadily growing each year.

Annual Sales Growth:

7.3% in 2011
16.5% in 2012
244% in 2013
21.2% in 2014
10.4% in 2015
25% in 2016

Outdated Policies Hinder Industry Growth

Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra says inappropriate drug policies still hinder hemp farming at the necessary scale for consumers, despite the number of states that permit it under 2014 Farm Bill provisions.

“To date, 32 states have passed legislation that allows hemp farming per provisions set forth in the 2014 Farm Bill, and the U.S. remains the largest consumer market for hemp products worldwide,” says Steenstra. “However, misguided drug policy still prevents our farmers from cultivating hemp at the scale needed to meet consumer demand, so instead, nearly all the hemp to supply the U.S. market is imported.”

Steenstra says Congress needs to pass legislation to allow commercial hemp farming across the country and let farmers and American businesses take advantage of the robust economic opportunity hemp provides.

According to its calculations, Vote Hemp says 15 states planted approximately 9,650 acres of hemp crops in 2016, 30 universities conducted hemp cultivation research, and states issued 817 hemp licenses.

Hemp cultivation is currently legal in 32 states that have removed farming restrictions and may license farmers under Section 7606 of the Farm Bill, the Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research amendment.

The current list of states includes California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.