Global and national interest in hemp seed products may be growing but when Kanapu launched into the market, its founders knew they needed to establish a unique selling proposition to ensure success.
At that point, the market was focused on hemp seed oil as a nutraceutical and it was commonly found on the shelves of health stores, particularly in pill form.
But Kanapu co-founder Isaac Beach says at the time there was also growing national and international interest in ‘functional hemp foods’.
“We decided to enter the market from a culinary point of view, focusing on the associated benefits of consuming hemp in the form of a functional food.
“That was a big gap in the market we identified. No one was in that space and yet it was perfect for us because not only is Hawke’s Bay the best part of the country to cultivate industrial hemp, it’s also full of expertise and business support in the area of food. We have some of the nation’s best culinary experts and chefs.
“We partnered with some of them and they came up with these brilliant ways of consuming hemp seed oil, and that led to the community understanding hemp food products are not drugs, they are safe and these expert chefs are using them in their meals at high-end restaurants, in high-end cuisine.”
Among the chefs championing the company’s oil have been Hawke’s Bay’s Kent Baddeley (best known for his restaurant 1024) and Jackson Smith, executive chef at Havelock North’s Malo.
Another aspect of Kanapu’s business strategy has been focusing on supplying the highest-quality product to local markets, given that hemp seed products degrade over time once they’re processed.
“In terms of quality and the realisation of functional benefits of hemp foods, consumers are wanting to consume them within the shortest time since they’ve been processed,” Isaac says.
“We’re better positioned to supply the local market than producers in other countries because of our shorter distance and time to market. We can compete effectively locally, and also in Australia, with regards to providing quality product.
“That, combined with the fact that we’re growing in Hawke’s Bay, is a significant unique point of difference from a quality standpoint.
“Our goal as a company is to focus on functional hemp foods and minimise the distance as much as possible from process to plate, and that’s essentially what we’ve achieved.
“Consumers are raving about the colour, the texture and the taste of our oil versus other oils on the market.”