Hemp Applications Are Expanding in the European Market

By Noah Tomares, Research Analyst, New Frontier Data

Hemp cultivation in Europe is well established, with traditional cultivation methods dating back hundreds of years. Beyond its historic significance, hemp is a remarkably versatile plant, offering myriad applications for nearly every part of the plant.

In September 2019, New Frontier Data reported how Europe cultivates up to 25% of the world’s hemp.

Previously, New Frontier Data has detailed Europe’s strong processing infrastructure and finished-goods industry, with utilization of hemp fibers in industrial applications. A recent research survey of EU residents has helped inform discussion about which uses among myriad applications are most popular with consumers.

New Frontier Data found 13% of EU respondents claiming to have purchased a hemp product in the previous two years. CBD consumers were far more likely to have purchased a product made of hemp (42%) than were non-consumers (9%). Individuals who had the most enthusiastic impressions of CBD were also more likely to have purchased a hemp product.

Despite a wide divergence in other purchasing behaviors, the types of products chosen by consumers and nonconsumers of CBD alike were reportedly quite similar. The three most popular products for either group were clothing, then bags /backpacks/accessories, and hemp seed oil. Nonconsumers were more likely to purchase hemp-based skin care/soap products, while CBD consumers ranked hemp shoes more highly. Throughout Europe as a whole, the five most popular reported hemp product categories included: clothing, bags/backpacks/accessories, hemp seed oil, skin care/soap, and hemp seed.

Regardless of consumer status, wearable hemp products remain a clear favorite. It may indicate EU consumers’ collective interest in hemp as fabric, or appreciation of hemp in wearable products.

Conversely, the popularity of hemp seed oil (#3) and hemp seed (#5) may indicate general awareness of hemp’s diverse applications. For example, both hemp seed oil and hemp seed have food applications, while hemp seed oil can also be utilized for personal hygiene and industrial products.

Currently, several headwinds may bolster Europe’s hemp industry. Countries with divergent regulations can limit the broad availability and uniformity of hemp-based products. Meantime, technology and economies of scale allow producers and manufacturers of hemp to contend with well-established competition. Given hemp’s uniquely multifaceted applications and broad potential appeal within the growing CBD market, it is well positioned to weather such growing pains.

Hemp has a well-established history in Europe and is utilized to varying degrees by many countries in the continent. The CBD market, conversely, is nascent but evolving. Given the higher propensity for CBD consumers to purchase hemp products, producers may benefit from considering potential synergies.