Growers and Natural Food Companies Seek Local Hemp Seed
Matt Birkholz, President of Colorado Hemp Works discusses how the Hemp Bill in Colorado has evolved the need for seed processing in the U.S.
By: Thomas Ivory, Jr.
Industrial Hemp seeds have a competitive nutritional value: second only to soy in protein, a better source of Omegas than fish oil, are dairy free, gluten free, vegan, non-GMO, and do not carry any allergens such as nut or tree-nut allergens.
“As the stigma begins to wear down that somehow people are going to get high by eating hemp seed,” said Matt Birkholz, president of Colorado Hemp Works, “you might start to discover that the hemp seed is a great alternative.”
Populations of vegetarians and vegans across the U.S. are steadily on the rise. The task of finding plant-based protein can be a challenge. For a long time, the best option has been soy. Hemp can be a great alternative that is more easily digestible by the human body.
Colorado Hemp Works, based out of Longmont, Colorado, is a local Industrial Hemp seed processing facility that aims at providing the best alternative product. “There are a good amount of natural food companies across the U.S. who have been using hemp in their products for years,” said Birkholz, “and there are new ones coming on-line all the time. Initially what we’re (CHW) looking at is trying to supply those types of companies with a fresher product.”
“Instead of the seed they buy from Canada, the hemp hearts or the by-products or the ingredients they buy, those seeds were processed months ago and in large batches, and then warehoused waiting for sale. Our business plan, our offering is: we bring the whole seed down to Colorado and we process it on-demand.”
“So, if a natural food company wants to make their product on a Thursday, we’ll spend Tuesday and Wednesday processing their seed, and deliver Wednesday night or Thursday morning, and get them the freshest product that they can possibly have.”
CHW takes the input of the whole seed and breaks it down, separating the seed shell casings from the hemp hearts, isolating and capturing each one. They currently dehull hemp seeds and have plans to bring in a commercial grade oil press.
Right now, there is a big difference in the price between international seed and Colorado seed, because of the availability, and the laws of bringing viable seed into the State. “Our plan was to rely upon international sourced seed, at least for the time being, and then migrate over to Colorado sourced seed as soon as the market was there,” said Birkholz. “We thought it was 2017, 2018, before farmers in Colorado would have enough seed where it would make sense for them to sell to somebody like me for food grade products; as opposed to selling seed to other farmers for the genetic value.
“What we’re finding, now that we’re operational and the word is starting to get out that we’re for real and we’re actually processing seed and the equipment is moving today, we’re finding a lot of farmers are starting to contact us.”
This year, there are farmers who are growing up to 1000 acres for food grade seed. That puts CHW ahead of schedule for what they predicted.
“We’re excited to be the first (hemp seed) processer, and currently the only de-sheller in the U.S., on a commercial scale,” said Birkholz. “We’re really excited to partner with Colorado farmers. And we’re really excited to be pushing this industry forward. We’re here to serve and we’re here to keep the industry moving.”
CHW is leading the industry in Industrial Hemp seed processing. This gives American companies, and American consumers, the best local products. Visit their website, coloradohempworks.com, to learn more.
“Hemp (oil) can go rancid quickly,” said Birkholz. “A lot of effort is put toward freshness. What is unique about us is the timing, and how close we can process to the time that our customers make their products.”