Australian grower discusses hemp with Japan’s first lady

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Paul Benhaim
Paul Benhaim
The chief executive of the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest hemp supplier has returned to Australia after meeting Japan’s first lady to discuss the future of the industry there.

Paul Benhaim, chief executive of Hemp Food Australia, attended the inaugural Kyoto Hemp Forum earlier this month, where he met Akie Abe, wife of prime minister Shinzo Abe. 

Following their discussions, Benhaim said the first lady showed strong interest in his company’s vision for the crop, and even bought some of his company’s Elixinol hemp oil product for her husband to use.

I was happy to have a productive discussion with Abe​,” said Benhaim. “Hemp has strong roots in Japanese culture, and the first lady is excited about continuing the tradition of hemp in her great country​.” 

Kyoto mayor Daisaku Kadokawa and the chief priest of the Kamigamo Shrine, Yasuhiro Tanaka, also participated in a roundtable discussion on Japan’s hemp industry with the first lady.

Hemp Foods Australia was founded by Benhaim in 2000 and is now the largest hemp food wholesaler, retailer, manufacturer and exporter south of the equator. Last year, it was awarded a government grant of nearly A$600,000 for innovative food product development and increasing its factory size. 

The company now exports to South Korea and distributes in Japan through its sister company, Hemp Foods Japan. Its products were nominated for the 2016 Japanese Vogue Beauty Awards. 

It is a major breakthrough to have an individual of high influence backing our cause in Japan, and Hemp Foods Australia hopes the first lady will engage leaders of Japanese industry in these critical conversations as we look to make a more sustainable planet through the use of hemp​,” said Benhaim.

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