Industrial hemp market experts are looking at 2022 with optimism. However many also suggest more struggles and market uncertainties. Here are the top 10 predictions.
2022 has come bearing hope for several markets. Especially those suffering from pandemic blues.
And industrial hemp (or just hemp) is one of the industries that are expected to see a new sun in 2022. However, this optimism is not unrivaled. Legal, socio-political, and economic issues might, at least, pause the hemp market’s bull run if not entirely undo the progress previously made.
But before we begin, let me clarify what I mean when I use the words hemp and industrial hemp.
Hemp is a special class of Cannabis Sativa grown for industrial or medical use. And it has a low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and higher CBD (cannabidiol) concentration.
Hemp is the non-psychoactive variant of cannabis that is used for recreational purposes.
The Wikipedia page for hemp will help you understand the nuanced differences between hemp and its close cousin CBD.
Now a natural question popping in your mind must be – who am I to predict what course the hemp market will take in 2022?
To be honest, given the volatile world we live in, it is not unusual for even data-backed predictions to fall flat. That’s why I wouldn’t dare say I am giving out a hemp market forecast for 2022. These are merely experience and insight-backed predictions.
As an industry insider, I get front-row seats to the great drama that unfolds in the hemp scene. And I am more than just a spectator. As the founder of the Hemp Foundation, I am also a player, to say the least.
So here is what I think and believe 2022 holds for the future of the hemp industry
10 predictions for industrial hemp in 2022
Hemp clothing will become a part of the popular culture
Hemp is one of the oldest known fabrics. It was first used 10,000 years old by sailors and as an industrial cloth. Back then, its strength was what made it valuable. Today, we also know it is sustainable and can be made to look classy and chic with proper processing.
A lot of small, hemp-based clothing lines have come up. Biggies like Armani, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren also have hemp collections. Emma Watson also has an organic hemp clothing line called Pure Threads.
Stars like Livia Firth and Woody Harrelson have also sported hemp clothes on red carpets.
And 2022 can be the year when the hemp textile industry finally leaves the runway. And becomes a part of popular culture. There are various brand options to choose from and also celebrity looks to copy.
Supply chains for hemp products will improve
Till now, hemp products—raw and finished—have been hard to transport. Legal restrictions and people’s unwillingness to get hemp on their hands was the primary reason why the distribution channels for hemp-based products were not developed.
With both governments and people warming up to hemp, brick-and-mortar stores may pop up. Door-to-door delivery might also become the norm.
And such drastic supply chain enhancements wouldn’t come alone. They’d bring better on-shelf visibility and thus, higher adoption rates for hemp. This, in turn, would also result in raw material prices being driven up by the forces of market demand.
ROIs might stumble briefly due to quality assurance and safety regulations
Even at the risk of being branded a pessimist, I’d like to say that ROI for most players in the hemp industry is set for a stumble in 2022.
Hemp has long been a crop that people and authorities had left alone. Aside from the levels of THC, there was not much that the governments were concerned about.
That will change in 2022. With that change, there would also be a marked increase in the quality and safety regulations related to hemp edibles, medicines, and even other industrial goods like cloth and paper.
The organizations that were hitherto self-regulating would become answerable to authorities. This would drive up the quality assurance and safety compliance costs for them. Thus, pulling down the ROI.
There is also a silver lining for some though. Companies that have been consistently investing in R&D would see their efforts pay off.
The hemp legalization wave will be seen across the globe
Several countries (US, UK, France, Australia, Canada, India, and Ukraine) have legalized the use of hemp. To some extent. However, rampant regulations about what can hemp be used for and what not still stand.
That is likely to change. Countries are getting back on their feet after struggling against the COVID-19 pandemic. And they might look at hemp as a viable cash crop to stabilize the economy.
Now I cannot vouch for a wave of legalization across borders, I sure do hope that it happens.
Pet health products will go green with hemp
Hemp is widely known as a relaxing agent when consumed orally. And the effect isn’t only for humans but our furry friends too.
For pets struggling with any kind of pain or anxiety, hemp can be a superb solution. Plus, it is also good for your pet’s skin and fur.
And several pet parents and pet supply companies are recognizing this. Consequently, several companies are entering the market for hemp pet products.
Canna-Pet and Hemp Pet are a few of the first movers in this realm. I expect many more to follow suit in 2022.
Hemp will become a farmer’s favorite
Here’s a simple law of economics: When demand rises, prices go up, and sellers profit.
In hemp economics, the same is going to be true in 2022. There is a lot of conversation going on around hemp lately. People are listening and adapting.
For hemp cultivators, this will be the year when crop prices shoot up with the expanding demand. But that’s just one aspect of why hemp would become a farmer’s favorite.
Other than the economic benefits, farmers are also realizing that hemp is good for their farms. Hemp grows fast. (And it will sell faster.) Hemp keeps the soil fertile and requires no artificial chemicals for growth. Plus, it requires less water and readies the soil for the next crop.
With hemp doing so much for them, it is unlikely that farmers won’t love hemp.
Hemp biodiesel might steal the limelight from electrical vehicles
Tesla, Mahindra, Tata, Hyundai, and several big automobile brands are coming up with electric vehicles.
But their shimmer might die down if hemp biodiesel becomes mainstream.
Hemp seeds, leaves, and other above-the-ground parts of the hemp plant have the potential to be used as biofuel. We also have enough research and data to show how eco-conscious and effective that would be.
What we lack is the infrastructure to make the plans come to life. The mounting pressure of depleting fuel availability and the lukewarm response to electric vehicles so far might push bigger stakeholders and governments into making the infrastructure available.
The farm-to-table trend will take off in the hemp industry
As mentioned earlier, the hemp supply chain and legalization are expected to see a brighter day. But I don’t see all of that happening at a global level.
This means that countries would produce and consume hemp nationally and not be as open to the international trade of hemp. Similarly, supply chains are unlikely to make the cross-border movement of hemp products possible.
That, and a general shift towards locally grown, environment-friendly produce will make farm fresh hemp a popular buzzword.
Multiple hemp construction materials will make a commercial appearance
Hempcrete (hemp concrete) is a popular hemp product that is now being increasingly used in the construction sphere. It has environmental benefits, of course, because the main ingredient that goes into it is hemp hurds. Plus, it is an excellent thermal insulator and resistant to mold, mildew, rot, pests, and fire. That makes it economically viable too.
But in 2022, hempcrete won’t only be discussed for its merits. It will also be used commercially. Today, using hempcrete in construction is expensive and labor-intensive.
With legalization, entry of more market players, and constant technological enhancements, those two shortcomings of hempcrete will fade.
Finance will become more accessible in the hemp market
Most hemp farmers are poor, fragmented, and lack technological support. The primary reason? Lack of financial infrastructure.
A farmer who grows hemp but doesn’t have the facility to process it is left with no option but to sell the raw material at throwaway rates.
With finance becoming more accessible to hemp growers and processors (majorly as a by-product of legalization), this situation would change.
And money inflow in any market has historically been known to bring a boom. In the case of hemp, 2022 could be the year it begins.
Signing off with hope for hemp’s future
Making predictions is always a tricky business. More often than not, disruptive forces hardly let you look back at what you said a year ago and go ‘see, I told you!’
And though I see (more apt: wish) these predictions skating through, they are based on thin ice. Whether or not COVID has a solid comeback in our lives is one of the top factors that can stop any positive movement in the hemp world. Also, global political decisions can seldom be relied on without official signatures.
So, with hope in my heart, I now would like to sign off. Let’s see how true (or otherwise) my predictions turn out to be.