The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) reports European hemp hectarage grew by 8,000 ha rising to more than 33,000 ha in 2016, a growth rate of 32% for European hemp cultivation.

Eight thousand ha equals nearly 20,000 acres, and 33,00 ha equals 81,500 acres. By comparison, the United States grew 9,649 acres of hemp in 2016. HBJ is still researching and compiling data from Canada, China and other countries to provide a global market analysis to be published in the annual State of Hemp Market Report.

France continues to be the dominant player in Europe with 17,000 ha of hemp under cultivation. Estonia is a distant second with 3,500 ha and Russia with 2,450, respectively.

The data published by EIHA suggests the European market has stabilized. EIHA forecasts in 2015 anticipate no growth in the market so this 32% growth rate comes as a welcome surprise showing strength in the European market. Cultivation and industrial processing produced a balanced array of hemp products across the continent, led by food and health applications, and industrial products used for animal bedding and the automotive industry.

The growth in Europe comes despite troubles and challenges in the Hemp CBD category. The European Industrial Hemp Association published a position paper in January 2017 that has openly criticized “a few pharmaceutical companies” for leading a fight for legislation that would make CBD a prescription-only drug, on the heels of recent developments in Germany and the UK. The EIHA has called for “urgent” action to overcome what it sees at present as “only a tenuous patchwork of CBD-regulation(s)”. Such issues in Europe have marked a slower start than expected for sales of Hemp CBD products in Europe with increased pressure on exports with the emerging U.S. market now producing its own products and importing products into some European countries. HBJ analysts anticipate once these issues are ironed out with European sales and distribution channels, Europe’s cultivation capacity and processing infrastructure will quickly put Europe on pace with the U.S. market for the Hemp CBD category; a caveat that pharmaceutical interests may corner the European market and stymy growth for Natural and Specialty products.

EIHA, nova-Institute and HempConsult conducted a survey of 171 participates and predicted the upper market size for CBD as a pharmaceutical product in North American and Europe is a €2 Billion market. For further analysis, check out The CBD Report.