While hemp is very much in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, self- funded New Delhi based startup Hemp Horizons is working towards creating awareness among the people on the tremendous benefits of the cannabis plant and make them readily available in different varieties of super foods. Hemp Horizon contract manufactures hemp products in different verticals and owns a brand called Health Horizons. The brand’s portfolio includes a number of food products under the categories of hemp seeds, hemp oils and hemp protein powder, amongst others.
NuFFooDS Spectrum interacted with Rohit Shah, Co-Founder, Health Horizons to find out more about the startup’s plans in this space.
Why is Hemp Horizons set apart from all other players in the market?
Hemp Horizons is the first and largest Ayurvedic products Direct to Retail company. We are also the largest white labelling company supplying products to over 90% of the Indian hemp brands. We own our manufacturing facility with a capacity to process over 15 tons of hemp which no one in the industry currently has.
Over 75 percent of the population in India is scared to come and talk to their families when they hear about cannabis/hemp as it is a taboo for them. How are you going to deal with this?
Well! four years ago when we first started out this taboo was much larger. We were the first brand to manufacture and retail hemp seed products in India. This was July 2018. Now there are over 15 brands selling hemp seed products in the market.
The slow effort of building not just a company but industry is how we are bringing the awareness. We wanted more companies to flow in and bring in their flair of creativity to educate the masses. Proud to say we manufacture for 13 out of those approx 15 brands. Apart from that, we provide and share a lot of Free Educational credible content, Awareness campaigns on How to use these products?
How is the company facing the regulatory challenges related to hemp-based products?
Our industry at least in India is very small due to which we are not heard anywhere. The biggest challenges lie around
Lack of awareness on the biochemistry of the plant and its products amongst government officials
Stringent advertising laws digitally
Regulations, as they stand, were either formed decades ago or some new cultivation policies that came out recently. Commercial cultivation is a key aspect to any industry providing quality products that can be traced back to its source. The new cultivation policy we think did not consider the proper rationale when bringing into effect. Which has created a lot of issues within the industry at various levels to grow.
Apart from medicinal benefits like immunity boosting, hormonal balance, cardiovascular health, what are other benefits that hemp offers?
Hemp seeds are also called as nature’s Superfoods.
- Protein from hemp seeds is more digestible than meat, whole eggs, cheese, human milk, cow’s milk or any other high protein food.
- Hemp has Edestin and Albumin, considered as “high-quality storage proteins”. They house a significant amount of all nutritious Essential Amino Acids.
- Presence of Omega 3 and Omega 6 helps control many internal health processes. Ranging from increasing cell growth, regulating the immune system, and eliminating symptoms of skin disorders to keep the body healthy.
- Slowing the digestion process, it keeps the body feeling fuller, hence acts as a weight loss supplement.
- Called as nature’s superfood, it includes all muscle-building Amino Acids such as Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA).
- They have high levels of the amino acid- Arginine, which has anti-inflammatory properties. The Nitric Oxide produced by Arginine results in enlarged and relaxed blood vessels, leading to a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Where are the products manufactured?
Our Ayurvedic Products are manufactured in our own GMP and ISO certified facility.
What are your future funding plans? How much growth are you expecting in the coming years?
The company has been bootstrapped so far. We are working on raising our first capital investment. We expect to grow at least 10x from what we are today in the next 3 years.
How are you contributing to this fight against covid-19?
Our products have been known to boost immunity and being all-natural products providing the right amounts of essential fatty acids also help to lead a healthy life. Since COVID-19 hit, we have been donating 5% of our manufactured to malnutrition communities along with other essential supplies.
COVID-19 has adversely impacted start-ups and small businesses. How are you surviving the downturn?
COVID - 19 had an impact on us for the first month like any other business. Issues around transportation, labor, etc. But we are grateful to say, we were able to tackle those issues fast. We also noticed covid has given people the awareness to understand what to consume.
We see a lot more people adopting plant-based diets, not just as a natural well being but moving towards natural medicines. And hemp products are the best plant based nutrition, medicine you can get. We have seen a 4x growth from April till now.
What are your expectations from the government in making hemp more acceptable in India?
The socio-economic impact that hemp has not only of the farmer who’s growing but the whole supply chain is significant. Adding to this is the positive environmental impact hemp cultivation brings to global warming issues.
We would like the government to take concrete steps in making hemp a mainstream crop. Create a government organization in the country that encourages farmers, entrepreneurs and others to enter the industry, regulates and puts forward recommendations on the new policy, amendments etc.
Almost every developed nation in the world now has a working cannabis/hemp policy in place or coming into effect soon, not to mention the less progressive neighboring countries like Nepal, Pakistan and Thailand. We as a country are lagging behind. As hardly anyone in the higher-ups are talking about Cannabis/Hemp.