Western Producer reporter Barb Duckworth traveled to Europe recently and filed these reports from the SIAL food show in Paris.
Calgary, Alberta — The men from Hemp Oil Canada just had to say “cannabis” and they found they were speaking an international language at the SIAL food show in Paris.
Wally Curti and Shawn Crew of Manitoba took their hemp oil-based toiletries, cooking oil and hemp coffee to the world’s largest food show in late October expecting everyone in Europe to know what they were selling.
“There is more awareness in Canada because it was illegal, then legalized,” Curti said.
Hemp can be legally grown in Europe, which is where Canadians obtained their original seeds.
But the cosmopolitan visitors to SIAL drew a blank when they stopped at the Canadian pavilion where the products were on display.
Once they explained it was related to marijuana without the hallucinogenic effects, people became curious about the shampoos, lotions, pet treats and toasted seeds.
They also liked the cold-pressed oil with its nutty taste. It is better as a salad dressing than a cooking oil. Some like it as a vitamin supplement.
Hemp Oil Canada is based in Sainte Agathe, Manitoba, but is attempting to make contacts with broader markets outside of Canada.
It contracted about 20 farmers to grow a strain of hemp that produces more seed because it wants the rich oil for its products.
“It hasn’t been easy. We like that. If it was easy everyone would have been in it,” Curti said.
Besides making European contacts, the company has sealed a deal with an American company that wants birdseed.
It has also developed a specialty coffee that sells for about $6 per pound.
“It’s a niche product. We’re selling lots as gifts and novelties.”
Copyright © 2000, The Western Producer. All rights reserved.