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CAN: Improving hemp yields to increase profitability for farmers

Protein Industries Canada announced a new project with Verve Seed Solutions, Farmer's Business Network Canada (FBN) and Fresh Hemp Foods (FHF) with the goal of increasing yield per acre and bringing high-quality, low-cost hemp protein to the market. The partners will work together to create an innovation value chain that will develop hybrid hemp cultivars with the physical and functional traits valued by processors, food ingredient companies and consumers.

"It is great to see Protein Industries Canada continue supporting projects that add value to, and create new markets for, Canadian crops, generating local jobs and supporting new economic development in locations across Canada," said the Honourable Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. "By developing a hybrid hemp seed with higher yield, this project is helping strengthen the diversity and sustainability of Canada's crops while solidifying Canada's global leadership in plant-based ingredients."

"Our agricultural sector is leading cutting-edge research, creating new novel-food ingredients and products, and adding value to home-grown commodities," said the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "This investment in developing top-quality and low-cost hemp protein will provide manufacturers and consumers with more options for plant-based products, while creating new markets and opportunities for our Canadian farmers."

During the five-year project, partners will work to position hemp as a protein-rich crop with increased yields and expanded ingredient and food usages. The total project will see $5.7 million invested into the development of the innovation value chain and the ensuing identity-preserved production system. Protein Industries Canada will invest $2.5 million, with the partners investing the remainder.

"The diversity and sustainability of Canadian crops are further strengthened with innovation and investment into new varieties," CEO of Protein Industries Canada Bill Greuel said. "Improving the yield of hemp increases the profitability of the crop, bringing benefit to farmers, while also bringing more healthy and sustainable high-protein options for ingredient manufacturers and food processors."

FBN manages hybrid canola- and hemp-breeding programs and together with Verve have the largest hemp seed genetics portfolio in North America. Verve, through its parent company HGI (2009), is one of the longest-serving hemp seed companies in North America and a leader in providing hemp varieties to the Canadian, US and international markets. Fresh Hemp Foods, established in 1998 is a global leader in contract hemp production, food ingredient processing and hemp-based consumer packaged goods. "By the end of the project hybrid hemp cultivars will be produced commercially delivering value to all members of the value chain including commercial producers, processors and consumers."

"We are excited to collaborate with Fresh Hemp Foods and Farmers Business Network to develop hybrid hemp cultivars with the physical and functional traits valued by processors, food ingredient companies and consumers," said Scott Horner, President of Verve Seed Solutions. "Consumers have signalled support for plant-based proteins, yet consumption has been limited by deficiencies in nutrition, price and taste/texture parity with conventional products. Utilization of hemp protein as a food ingredient can address nutrition and taste/texture challenges and development of hemp hybrids with significant yield advantage makes hemp a cost competitive option which will drive demand for production."

"FBN has been involved in hemp breeding since obtaining a Health Canada research and breeding license in 2019. In that time, the breeding program has achieved several milestones, including developing Canada's first high CBD feminized hemp hybrid and the first dual-use (flower and grain) dioecious hybrid," Marko Gjuric, FBN's Hemp Program Manager said. "We look forward to partnering with fellow industry leaders, Fresh Hemp Foods and Verve Seed Solutions, and working again with Protein Industries Canada to progress industrial hemp into becoming a viable commodity crop that will be integrated into Canadian growers' regular rotation schedule."

"Fresh Hemp Foods was a pioneer in introducing hemp foods to the Canadian marketplace and is excited to partner with Verve Seeds and the Farmers Business Network (FBN) to continue that leadership with hemp plant breeding innovations," Fresh Hemp Foods Senior Director of Operations Clarence Shwaluk said. "Hemp is a nutritional powerhouse, containing all essential amino acids, a highly digestible protein profile, and is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. There is substantial room for growth, and higher farm yields will be crucial to maintaining our company's top global position in hemp foods and creating benefits along the entire value chain."

For more information:
Protein Industries Canada

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