Hemp In Europe With Mark Reinders of HempFlax

Hemp In Europe With Mark Reinders of HempFlax

Hemp In Europe With Mark Reinders of HempFlax
Ministry of Hemp Podcast

When it comes to using our favorite plant for almost anything other than CBD, the hemp industry in Europe can seem light years ahead of us. We take a closer look at hemp in Europe today on the Ministry of Hemp podcast.

In this week’s episode, our host Matt talks to Mark Reinders, CEO of HempFlax, one of Europe’s largest industrial hemp producers. Hempflax uses almost every part of the hemp plant to make everything from CBD products to pet bedding, plastics, and insulation. They talk about the history of hemp prohibition and how Europe’s hemp industry got a 20-year head start on the U.S.

In the show, Matt also mentions our new introduction to CBG. Check it out!

About Mark Reinders and HempFlax

Mark Reinders is CEO of HempFlax, Europe’s largest independent grower and processor of industrial hemp in Europe.

HempFlax has operations across Europe, with over 2,200 hectares of hemp expected to be harvested in 2020. Processing the whole hemp plant enables HempFlax to maximize revenues across their six business lines: Nutraceuticals; Hemp-based Plastic Replacement; Construction; Animal Care; Horticulture and; Genetics & Cultivation.

Mark has been with the company since 2008 and was appointed CEO in 2016. From 2016 to 2019, he also served as president of the European Industrial Hemp Association, Europe’s foremost coalition of the industrial hemp-processing industry. He remains on the board of directors today.

Brought to you by Receptra

Thanks to Receptra for sponsoring this podcast episode. Try Receptra Serious Rest 25 for better sleep.

Thanks to our partners at Receptra for making this week’s episode possible. Try Receptra Serious Rest 25 to help you get deeper, better sleep. This unique product combines top-quality CBD with chamomile. Matt shares his experience with Receptra Serious Rest in this episode, and we’ll have a full review coming later this month.

Want to try Receptra? Use coupon code MOH15 to get 15% off your order!

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Send us your hemp questions and you might hear them answered on one of our Hemp Q&A episodes. Send your written questions to us on Twitter, Facebook, [email protected], or call us and leave a message at 402-819-6417. Keep in mind, this phone number is for hemp questions only and any other inquiries for the Ministry of Hemp should be sent to [email protected]

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Mark Reinders is CEO of HempFlax, one of Europe’s leading hemp producers.

Hemp in Europe: Complete Episode Transcript

Below you’ll find the complete transcript of episode 52 of the Ministry of Hemp podcast, “Hemp in Europe”:

Matt Baum:
I’m Matt Baum and this is The Ministry of Hemp podcast, brought to you by ministryofhemp.com, America’s leading advocate for hemp and hemp education. Before we get started today, I just want to say thank you to our partners at Receptra. Receptra is one of the brands that we partner with on ministryofhemp.com and later on in the show I’m going to tell you all about their Serious Rest gel capsules and Serious Rest chamomile tinctures. I’ve been using them myself and I really like them and you can find their whole line of high-quality CBD products over at receptranaturals.com. Thanks again to Receptra for partnering with us and helping us to bring you this show.

Matt Baum:
Speaking of this show, today my conversation is with Mark Reinders of HempFlax. HempFlax might not be a name you are familiar with, but they’re one of Europe’s largest hemp purveyors. They do everything. You’ll hear us talk about it, but they are involved in so many different aspects of the hemp world that allows them to use the entire plant, including the dust that comes off of the plant while they are creating hemp fiber. It’s incredible. Now you may be asking yourself, “Matt, why are we talking about hemp in Europe when we’re supposed to be focused on hemp in the United States.” Well, we are still focused on the hemp in the United States and trust me, this conversation’s going to all come back around to that, but I thought it would be really cool to talk to someone working in the industry in a country that is a lot more hemp friendly.

Matt Baum:
Now, that’s not to say we’re not hemp friendly here, it’s supposed to be legal, but as you know the FDA and the United States government have not exactly been leading the charge on how all of this hemp is going to be regulated in the States, short of letting the States shake it out on our end. A similar thing is happening in the European Union and the UK as well. You’ll hear more about that shortly. Let’s get right into it. This is my conversation with Mark Reinders. He’s the CEO of HempFlax, Europe’s largest independent grower and processor of industrial hemp. HempFlax has operations across Europe, with over 2,200 hectares of hemp expected to be harvested in 2020. Mark has been with the company since 2008 and was appointed CEO in 2016. From 2016 to 2018, he also served as President of the European Industrial Hemp Association, which is Europe’s foremost coalition of the industrial hemp processing industry. He remains on that board of directors today. Needless to say, Mark knows what he’s talking about. Here is my conversation with Mark Reinders.

An introduction to hemp in Europe

Matt Baum:
Now, HempFlax is not a name that we really know in the United States, but you guys are gigantic. Can you tell us a little bit about what HempFlax does?

Mark Reinders:
Yes, I can. We are in the business for 25 years already in growing, harvesting, and processing industrial hemp and we are one of the pioneers of the post-war industrial hemp industry in Europe. We are founded in 1994 with entrepreneur Ben Dronkers and Ben founded HempFlax in his vision to bring industrial hemp back as being a legal industrial crop. He saw the possibilities of hemp from the Hemp Museum in Amsterdam. He’s also the founder and owner of the Hemp Museum in Amsterdam and Barcelona. There he learned about the past uses of hemp in the Golden Age. The big sailing ships had ropes and sails made from hemp fiber.

Matt Baum:
Right, right.

Mark Reinders:
Sailors were dressed in hemp fiber based clothing. The brewings in the ship was made with hemp. As you know, after the Prohibition industrial hemp completely disappeared.

Matt Baum:
Let’s talk about that for just a second. I’m curious, was there the same hemp prohibition in Europe that we saw in the United States? Because right after World War II, hemp pretty much vanished and was treated very much like marijuana as a crop and has slowly been coming back. Same thing in Europe?

Mark Reinders:
Yeah. It was a worldwide global thing hemp, because it was the prohibition on UN basis. There were some countries, for example like France, they had some kind of exemption in that time already. The big revival of industrial hemp happened in the late 80s, early 90s, when more and more countries changed their legislations in such a way that made possible for farmers to grow industrial hemp. To be very clearly on that, they did not remove cannabis from the scheduled list, but they made exemption rules industrial hemp. In the Netherlands, for example, the prohibition is not valid for hemp that’s meant for fiber and seed production, as long it’s grown in the open soil, outdoors, and that’s how the Netherlands dealt with it. The problem we have today in the world is each country is making their own exemptions on the prohibition, because the prohibition of the scheduling of cannabis is still in place.

Mark Reinders:
That’s why we are looking very forward to the United Nations single convention meeting that should’ve taken place last year, being postponed in March and now it’s being postponed in December, that cannabis is getting descheduled as soon as possible as an industrial crop, so we are not falling under the convention rules anymore.

Matt Baum:
Can I ask, is it similar to the States where they say that hemp is basically anything with a certain amount of THC or below and then anything above that is still scheduled? Is it similar?

Mark Reinders:
Yeah. Now, the exemption rules are same, but we are still, let’s say, under the prohibition of the single convention, but the exemption rules are based on 0.2% THC. US and the States 0.3. We have European countries mostly 0.2. You have some countries like Swiss, for example, made one percent rules, but 0.2 is the general rule in Europe.

Matt Baum:
Here we’re dealing with a very similar issue that you are, but it’s state by state. The United States hasn’t ruled as a federal agency on hemp yet, so we have states making different rules for hemp, which is ridiculous and hopefully it sounds like you guys are about to get out of that. I think we’re stuck in it for a little bit here. But because you were able-

Mark Reinders:
Right. In Europe, we have the same thing. Not every country has the same rules.

Matt Baum:
Right. Of course.

Mark Reinders:
Except you have … Also, they’re on state level differences. In the Netherlands, for example, we are not able to harvest the flowers and the leaves for CBD production.

Matt Baum:
Really?

Mark Reinders:
The Dutch exemption is only valid for fiber and seed production, so I’m not touching the leaves and the flowers and the dust crops. But, if I go 10 kilometers in that direction, meaning east-

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
… I’m in Germany and we have crops in Germany as well, because we’re that close to the border. In Germany, it’s industrial hemp. It doesn’t matter if you use it for the roots or the fiber or the seeds or the leaves and the flower, as long as you stay below 0.2%.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
It’s industrial hemp and growing at a farm. We don’t care what you do with it. I think that’s how it should be, because it’s really strange that governments are for you deciding what to do with the crop and what not.

Matt Baum:
Right. Especially a crop that’s not a drug at this point, that is essentially harmless from everything we’re finding. Can I ask, is that why you have locations in Germany and Romania and the Netherlands? It’s because different places are … The rules are different basically and you can do different things there. Is that the case?

Mark Reinders:
No, we didn’t choose different locations because of the rules, because Germany and the Netherlands was already there because of the geographic location of the factor.

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Mark Reinders:
Because of what I said, we are really on the border of the Dutch-German border. Our growing area is 50 kilometers around the factory because the transport of raw materials, the straw, is a very voluminous product, so it takes a lot of trucks to do that, so high transport cost. That’s why we try to keep our growing area as close as possible to the factory. That’s why we have a part in Germany as well. Of course, now as a coincidence and change in the difference and rules and regulations we have in the [inaudible 00:09:14] that we can grow CBD in Germany as well. The Romanian factory, actually we started farming in Romania in 2012, because we were looking for expansion and we have to decide or we expand the Dutch factory, meaning putting a bigger production line in, but then we also needed more growing area to grow our crops.

Mark Reinders:
We suffered from a lot of competition for agriculture land around us, mostly by the bioenergy industry, the biomass and for biogas. We said, “Okay, we’re taking another location, more southly and different climate zone,” to one hand spread our climatal risk, because we’re operating here on more sea climate type in the Netherlands. Where Romania, we have a continental climate type and we are more southly, so we can harvest the seeds as well. In the northern European operations, we do not harvest the seeds because the hemp starts flowering four weeks later compared to Romania and then I end up in September with my harvest of the seeds in the Netherlands. I need three weeks of drying and retting in the fields and then I’m ending up in October and I need to get my stalks dry from the field. To get something dry from the field in the Netherlands in October is very difficult because of the climate. It’s very risky. Where Romania actually this weekend, we started harvesting the hemp and the seeds are ripe.

Matt Baum:
Oh, wow.

Mark Reinders:
Because of the continental climate, we have relatively dry, good weather up to November, so we have a lower harvest risk if we do seeds.

Matt Baum:
So it’s like just a much longer growing season where you can do different things-

Mark Reinders:
Yeah.

Matt Baum:
… overlapping each other basically?

Mark Reinders:
Because even more southly latitudes, we can sow earlier. In Romania, we’re sowing in the mid of March, end of March, where in the Netherlands we do end of April, mid of April.

Getting a head start on hemp

Matt Baum:
It sounds like HempFlax was founded in the 90s, so you guys had a much longer jump on the hemp business than we’ve had in the States. You’re one of the first fully veritably integrated hemp companies, is that correct?

Mark Reinders:
It’s correct. The reason we are veritably integrated is on the one hand we want to make the supply chain as short as possible. The more companies or chains you have in the supply chain, the more expensive the product gets.

Matt Baum:
Of course.

Mark Reinders:
Each chain has its profit margin being calculated over the profit margin of the previous chain. You get the so-called movement effect, it’s called in economics. The product gets too expensive.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
On the other hand, because we were the pioneers, we were one of the first, there was nothing there. If you want to bring something to the market you had to do it for yourself-

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Mark Reinders:
… from the seed to the end product. It starts in the farming with a special harvest. Believe me, in the first year as we tried every type of harvest that was out there commercially available and all of them we have destroyed completely because hemp is a very difficult crop to harvest. If you cannot buy something in the market you start building yourself something.

Matt Baum:
Sure. You may as well design it.

Mark Reinders:
Then you end up with a machine that’s pretty expensive, so the farmers are not likely to invest in it, especially when it’s a new crop and a new company. They’re curious in buying and investing in harvesting equipment, so we have to do it. In the factory as well and the end products as well. The other reason is that we do the harvest ourself is very quality based reason, because we have a very strong feeling that quality starts in the field and not in the factory.

Matt Baum:
Absolutely.

Mark Reinders:
By controlling the harvest, we’re controlling the quality and this has to do with drying and retting. We are more likely to wait till after the rain to get a crop in, because we know we get a bit more retting and better quality fiber. Where a farmer says, “It’s going to rain next week,” I’d take the crop in now because then I have it in before the rain.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
It’s a normal thing for a farmer, but then you don’t have the best quality of fiber, because you need the fiber to be … You rett it a little bit.

Getting to know HempFlax

Matt Baum:
Let’s talk about what all HempFlax does. You’re involved in nutrition. You’re involved in animal husbandry. You’re involved in plastics, fibers. What don’t you guys do with hemp? It seems like you started from the root literally and you go all the way up to the flower. What was the first thing HempFlax invested in when this started?

Mark Reinders:
Well, the very first thing is we started separating the fiber and the core from each other. That was the first step, so-called decortication. We started in an old flax mill in the early 90s, but then we found out pretty quickly that the flax equipment was not suitable for processing hemp.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
We found out pretty fast that hemp needs specialized equipment. Also there we started developing decortication equipment to decorticate the hemp, so that’s why we have now a breaker mill system. Not hammer mill, but the breaker mill system, that breaks the fiber loose from the core and then we make a separation. And then we had raw fiber and shives. The shives were packed as horse bedding and the fiber went to the paper industry for cellulose, because it was raw, unrefined 80% pure fiber. It was not suitable for the automotive industry, not suitable for any application. While we were doing that, we started developing more equipment and we learned more how to do it and we were able to refine the fiber, get the fiber cleaner, so then we had new markets opening up. We ended in the automotive industry in supplying fiber for interior parts and for door panels as a fiberglass replacement that you need high-quality fiber. From the animal bedding, we also said, “Okay, we had horses.” We made small packages for cat litter-

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Mark Reinders:
… for rabbits, guinea pigs and so on. We started marketing in the retail, so we had equipment to pack in smaller size. Then, we start selling the fiber to an insulation manufacturer for making hemp insulation. We thought, “Hey, that’s nice. We can develop the market here as well.” We start buying back the fiber and we start selling the insulation here to build a market and recently, actually this is funny, in June, we were able to take over this company and is part of the group also to make the supply chain shorter.

Thanks to Receptra for sponsoring our podcast

Matt Baum:
Let’s take a quick break to talk about our podcast partner this week, Receptra Naturals. You can find them over at receptranaturals.com and of course I’ll have links in the show notes to tell you all about them. We’re super proud to be working with these guys because they make such high quality CBD products. Receptra has been around since 2015 and they’ve been operating with one major guiding principle and it’s super simple, the truth is curative. That’s Rusty Scott, the founder of Receptra Naturals said that. What they basically mean is the product that they represent on their label is exactly what you’re getting and it does what it says it does. In this case, they sent me some of their new Receptra Series Rest camomile tincture. This is a 25 mg dose, right? They have a very easy-to-read dosage dropper and one milliliter represents 25 mg of the Series Rest Nighttime CBD. This one comes in a vanilla mint flavor and it’s made with full spectrum hemp extract and chamomile to help you sleep.

Matt Baum:
I’ve been taking it for about two weeks now before I go to bed. I’m a very light sleeper and I have to say I’ve been sleeping very well, so I am going to be asking them for more of this. It is a fantastic product. The flavor is not overpowering by any means. You shake it before you take it. I take it about an hour before I go to bed and I can feel myself relaxing. Not so much getting drowsy like a sleep aid would make you, but relaxing and getting ready to go to bed and not worrying about all the stuff that’s in my head spinning around. Also, I find myself sleeping really comfortably and well. In the morning, I don’t wake up groggy. I don’t wake up feeling hungover, which is something that a lot of sleep aids do. I don’t feel cloudy at all. I just had nice restful sleep and like I said, no grogginess, no cloudiness. I don’t feel strange at all.

Matt Baum:
Their label features a QR code, where you can get the lab results, which is something we always push for, and the ingredients are right here. They’re very simple. Organic MCT oil, organic sunflower oil, Receptra hemp extract, organic flavors that include vanilla and peppermint, natural flavor of chamomile, valerian root extract and organic linalool. All right, I don’t know what that one is, but it is organic and it’s all written right there, which is good. Right now, the Receptra people are being so cool. You can head to receptranaturals.com, make an order and use the code MOH15. That’s capital M-O-H and the number 15 to get 15% off your order, just for being a Ministry of Hemp listener. You’re supporting a great company who is supporting The Ministry of Hemp and you’re going to get a better night’s sleep too. Everybody wins here. We can’t thank them enough for supporting our podcast. We love getting great brands to you guys. If you’re having trouble sleeping or you want to check out any of their other line of CBD products, head over to receptranaturals.com and again I will have that link featured in the show notes for this episode. Now back to my conversation with Mark Reinders.

How HempFlax uses all of the hemp plant

Mark Reinders:
To make a long story short, we use every single part of the hemp plant. We don’t throw away anything-

Matt Baum:
That’s amazing.

Mark Reinders:
… even the dust coming from the whole process. You can imagine if you do a lot of mechanized processing of those hemp stalks, you have a lot of dust, about 20% turns in dust and we call it hemp flour. That sounds a bit more expensive. We sell it as an additive to growing media and this growing media has been pelletized and being sold into the rose breeding industry-

Matt Baum:
That was amazing.

Mark Reinders:
… as growing medium. It’s even exported all over the world. My, let’s say, secondary revenue stream is being upgraded to a high-end growing medium being exported to Korea for rose breeding. We don’t throw away anything here. Everything is being used. That’s why we’re active in so much markets because literally we are an upside down factory. Normally, if you look a car factory, for example, you have a lot of parts and iron and the wheels, electronics and everything is being put together. All those thousands of parts being put together and end of the day you have one product, a car. We are all the way around. We have one raw material called hemp and that goes in a factory and we are separating and refining it in all these revenue streams. If I want it or not, I’m getting all these revenue streams and I have to sell it. For that reason, we are active in so many markets.

Mark Reinders:
Actually, the sales department is being split into business lines. We have a business line construction material being managed by people who know about construction material and have the know and experience. We have a business line animal care for the bedding and animal mattresses and wool and all kind of stuff. We have a business line industrial applications where we have nonwovens for door panels, boat fiber, compounds, pellets, granulates for inaction molding and compounding. That’s really the business line for industrial applications. We have a genetics business line where we sell our sowing seeds, but also our harvesting equipment, like the double cut combine we’re selling there. We have a business nutraceuticals that’s been defined into food and food supplements, where of course hemp seed oil, protein powder, but also the whole range of CBD products is being [inaudible 00:21:45] from CBD raw material into extracts, into premixes, up to white labeled, ready-to-consume products like tinctures and capsules.

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Mark Reinders:
We have a business line horticultural, where we sell the growing media, the growing medium enhancers and mulch layers for flower pots and top soil. Definitely have a look at our website, because there’s really too much to mention-

Matt Baum:
Yeah, there’s a lot.

Mark Reinders:
… in one [crosstalk 00:22:11].

Matt Baum:
There is a lot going on. It kind of looks like you guys started … You looked at what you were doing fiber and said, “Well, where else can we take this part of the plant and plug it into the world,” and you found little pieces, mostly recently insulation. That’s a Germany company that you guys bought, is that correct?

Mark Reinders:
Yeah, that’s correct.

Sustainable construction with hemp

Matt Baum:
What is that like moving into something like that? Did someone approach you and say, “Hey, we could use this to make insulation,” or did you approach this from your point of view and say, “We can make insulation and we should buy it and control it ourselves, there’s a huge market here”?

Mark Reinders:
No, actually this specific company [inaudible 00:22:51], was working with hemp insulation for a long time. Actually, they were the pioneers in hemp insulation. We used to supply them with a lot of fiber in the past and then one time there came an opportunity. The current investor wants to quit and wants to shut down the company, so we said, “Okay, if you want to shut down, we want to take it over because we feel comfortable this market has a future.” What you see these days, the whole COVID thing realized people more than ever before that we have to change the way of living.

Matt Baum:
Yes, absolutely.

Mark Reinders:
Not that we have to go back to Middle Ages and stop living. No, we can still live. We can still enjoy a warm house and a good insulated house, but we can also do that with different type of materials.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
Doesn’t always need to be a synthetic material or a mineral material with a lot of CO2 emission in the production. We can also make a good housing with good thermal properties with better materials, because you have to realize at the moment you insulate your house, you’re CO2 saving at that moment already. We have a negative CO2 balance. Even you add all the CO2 emissions we have for transport, processing, harvesting, field work, and so on, the crop took more CO2 from the air than we are emitting in our production process.

Matt Baum:
That’s amazing.

Mark Reinders:
If you look at the CO2 balance of a mineral wall where you have to crush stone and melt it and make fiber out of it or glass wall insulation or synthetic insulation, they’re very high CO2 footprints in the production. Of course, with insulation in a house it saves energy in the summer or in the winter, sorry.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
Not in the summer, because it’s not keeping your house cool. It is ineffective. It’s a sustainability [inaudible 00:24:35].

Matt Baum:
Right. You’re starting off underwater basically. You’re starting off with something-

Mark Reinders:
Exactly.

Matt Baum:
… that may cost CO2 just to build before you crush it into something else, so that’s incredible.

Mark Reinders:
Yeah, that’s the whole thing about our material because it’s good already for day one, because otherwise if you insulate your house with rock wool, for example, your house needs to save energy for a couple of years before it’s earned back its own energy for production. In the world, if you talk about sustainability too many times we look at the sustainability if a product is in use. There’s electrical cars on the street or the house is insulated, but we believe and I think that’s the only valid methodology to talk about sustainability is the lifecycle assessment. Look at the total lifecycle of a product, what impact that gives on our planet and our environment and on our climate. Because if you just look at the news, we just had in the Netherlands 18 days of summer heat that’s more than 25 degrees. That’s very special for the Netherlands. We never had that in the history of meteorology measurements. The five hottest summers since the measurements were taken of the climate to place … The three hottest summers took place in the last five years.

Matt Baum:
Wow.

Mark Reinders:
We see the melting of the polar ice is going faster and faster every year. On the other hand, the whole COVID pandemic where people had to lockdown, air transportation shut down, we saw how quickly the air quality improves again in cities and in environments. We also learned how regenerative the world can be. Of course, I’m not saying we can undo the climate change in one year. It will take decades and probably generations to do that, but if we don’t start today what will happen.

Matt Baum:
Right. Every day we don’t start we push things back probably another five or 10 years.

Mark Reinders:
We have alternatives. We can’t say because we’re … The alternatives are there and of course in volume we are still very small, but imagine what we can do if the concept we have like HempFlax is being bigger and being used in more countries. Therefore, again, we need to have clear legislative environment-

Matt Baum:
Yeah, absolutely.

Mark Reinders:
… where industrial hemp is not falling on any prohibition. It’s free to use. Because only then we can succeed and we can accelerate our growing and we can bring those products to the market that’s so necessary these days.

Using hemp in cars instead of plastic

Matt Baum:
You’re working in replacing plastic parts in cars. You’re working in insulation. What is adoption like right now? Are companies open to this idea? It seems we’re a little resistant here in the States and I think quite honestly it’s only because there aren’t more companies like HempFlax in the States that are able to do this. We’re still building this infrastructure. What’s it like in Europe? When you came to car companies and said, “Hey, we can replace all those plastic knobs with hemp plastic.” Are they adopting this? Are they going for it?

Mark Reinders:
That reminds me, I didn’t answer the question before, because those developments was initiating it. A lot of time companies are reaching out to us. “Hey listen, we have a product now. We’re using glass fiber, we are using mineral fiber, synthetic fiber, can we replace it with you,” and off you make a product out of it together with the development of that company.

Matt Baum:
That’s cool.

Mark Reinders:
That’s how it went with the car companies and car companies first said, “Hey, we can’t use this fiber in this way,” because they were used to glass fiber and glass fiber is every day the same because it’s not dependent on the weather, it’s not dependent on the climate. It’s every day same length, same quality. Where a natural fiber like hemp fiber, we need variance in the quality because it depends a little bit on the weather and the harvesting moment and the situation.

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Mark Reinders:
It’s both a very learning process, but I think it succeeded a lot because today we’re supplying fiber for door panels for the Mercedes F, C, and A type.

Matt Baum:
Oh, wow.

Mark Reinders:
For the BMW, 3 and 5 series. For the Jaguar, for the Bentley and even for the Bugatti Veyron.

Matt Baum:
Oh, wow.

Mark Reinders:
The Bugatti Veyron, I’d like to tell you, because it’s not making me very rich because while I’m telling you this the factory produced enough for them for a whole year to use.

Matt Baum:
Wow.

Mark Reinders:
But the [inaudible 00:29:22] is because they are using it. They’re not using hemp fiber in the door panel to make this 1,000 horsepower car look very green at the end of the day because look it’s hemp fiber in the door panel, not at all. They use it because it gives weight reduction over carbon fiber. Actually, they are using it because of a better mechanically performance and that’s what I like. I want to sell our products because it’s better, not necessarily because it’s more sustainability.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
That’s the sound effect.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
That’s the extra.

Matt Baum:
That’s a plus.

Mark Reinders:
People are buying things because it’s better for them. Better performance, better quality, better internal climate.

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Mark Reinders:
If you can make something that replaced something not sustainable, but it’s better, then people will buy it.

Matt Baum:
Absolutely.

Mark Reinders:
You make the world sustainable because the people are buying it.

Matt Baum:
So do you see-

Mark Reinders:
That’s my vision.

Matt Baum:
Do you see a future where HempFlax has a Formula One car that is a body built out of hemp plastics and whatnot? It’s a little lighter than the other cars, but it’s faster.

Mark Reinders:
I’m looking more Formula E. I think it does … fit a bit better there, but yeah it’s possible. Yeah, why not? Because the carbon fiber … Well, speaking about CO2 emission in the production, carbon fiber is a CO2 bump.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, it’s a monster.

Mark Reinders:
It’s amazing the energy input on the CO2 emission. It’s a nice fiber, strong fiber. You can make a lot of great, nice lightweight materials with it, but the LCA is terrible.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, so you said there’s some variance between plastic fibers and carbon fibers and glass fibers. Are you figuring out ways to shrink that variance, to make it to bring these a little more-

Mark Reinders:
Yeah.

Matt Baum:
… in line?

Comparing hemp in Europe and U.S.

Mark Reinders:
I think if you look at our production line, again it starts in the field and I think with all respect there’s a lot of … It’s still missing in the US, because you’re still working with your first crops and I see sometimes postings and pictures and movies. Oh nice, we tried it before, doesn’t work. Good luck. It’s really petty, because there’s a lot of trial and error there and it’s amazing how much errors we made in our life. Some errors we made twice to be sure. That’s a whole learning process. Actually, if I look at the production line we’ve built in Romania, it’s already better already compared to production line here we have in the Netherlands.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
Just because we work with the production line ourselves and our engineers we have are the operators of the machine. The operators, the guys working with it and machinery every day, they experience the problems, they see improvement.

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Mark Reinders:
We give them the freedom to implement the improvements and for that reason I think we got a better production line. And then, we are able to combination harvesting in the fields and processing that we are able to make a very standard type of fiber that can be used in the automotive. If we are not able to do that, we cannot supply to the automotive industry.

Matt Baum:
Exactly, yeah. Especially something like that automotive industry where you have safety standards and whatnot that have to be very rigid in case an SUV crashes into one of those Mercedes. I’m sure they brought you each one of those cars after they fitted these. They said, “Thank you so much, here you go,” and you’ve got one each, right?

Mark Reinders:
No. No, not at all.

Matt Baum:
I’m sorry to hear.

Mark Reinders:
Not going to fit in the budget. One maybe in the future.

Matt Baum:
You brought up a point. It kind of blows my mind how far behind the States is because of the Prohibition and how we thought about this. Even now, when we have people in Europe, such as HempFlax that are literally 20 years ahead of us in working with this, we still haven’t fully connected and looked to say, “Hey, how are you guys doing that? We could use a little help over here.” We’re getting it together, but what do you think the future is for HempFlax? Where do you go from here? You guys have already … You’re in almost every business I can think of, from agriculture to industrial, what’s next?

Mark Reinders:
And then what’s next? Of course, we’re looking at America with great interest-

Matt Baum:
Yes.

Mark Reinders:
… and for some quite time already. Since 2015, after we finished the Romanian factory, we looked at the US, but at that time the federal legislation was not there yet. Early ’18, doesn’t look like it was going to happen. In the end, December ’18, the Farm Bill was signed finally, but up until then we couldn’t do anything.

Matt Baum:
Sure.

Mark Reinders:
Because if it was not legal on federal level I could not open a bank account. I could not ship it to every state, insurance policies-

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
… all those things you need as a company. Because I cannot go to my energy company with a bag of money and I want to pay the bill of this month, you know?

Matt Baum:
Right. You’re effectively [crosstalk 00:34:25] a drug dealer at that point.

Mark Reinders:
Yeah. I can only operate in a fully legal environment, so we had to wait till the Farm Bill was signed and then the Farm Bill was signed and then everybody was jumping on it. Of course, in the whole CBD craziness we said, “Okay, well, let’s see what happens, because.” I was very worried because I learned of so many acres of hemp were being sown without people having a harvesting machine, without having a market, without having the whole supply chain. I think it’s just a waste of energy and capital there, also for the farmers growing a very nice hemp crop, but not being able to sell it or harvest it. I have one free advice really and it’s no offense, but if you don’t have a customer, you don’t have a factory and you don’t have the proper harvesting machinery, do not plant hemp.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, it’s insane.

Mark Reinders:
Hemp is an expensive crop. It will cost you money when you plant it. It will cost you money when you harvest it. It will cost you even a whole lot more money if you start processing it. It only returns your money, at the moment it’s in a truck heading your customer, including invoice and get your invoice paid.

Matt Baum:
Right.

Mark Reinders:
At that moment you get your invoice paid, it can easily be two, 2-1/2 years after the moment you planted the hemp.

Matt Baum:
God.

Mark Reinders:
That’s something you have to consider. If you don’t have a customer, do not. Last year, we got a phone call in October from a US guy. He said, “Hey, I have 800 acres of hemp.” I need to call my harvester. So when? Next year is a no? Next week. But, listen this double cut combine is weighing 25,000 kilograms.

Matt Baum:
Right. We can’t just like put it in-

Mark Reinders:
It’s not something I can send to you with DHL Overnight Express.

Matt Baum:
What about piece by piece though? What if we took it apart, packed it up?

Mark Reinders:
No, I gave the suggestion hire an ethanol flame, maybe that works.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, there you go.

Mark Reinders:
It will be a costly flame, but amazing. If you plant hemp you should have a harvesting at least with bought harvesting machine because 120 days after planting it’s harvesting time. If you have to import machinery from Europe or whatever you have to plant it on a farm. If you’re thinking about a ’20/’21 crop you have to plant it today already. Start planning your harvest.

Matt Baum:
Yeah. It’s crazy because we’re very pro hemp and we are pushing hemp education and we want to see it succeed and I love that farmers are getting interested in this, but we just experienced this massive hemp bubble last year that burst because we had so much planted and there was literally no one to make fiber out of it, no one to dry it, no one to process it. A lot of trucking companies wouldn’t even ship it, because they don’t know. It’s terrifying. It’s so terrifying. I feel like you guys are sitting across the pond sort of watching the rats eat each other right now to see who comes out the strongest, you know?

Mark Reinders:
Yeah.

Matt Baum:
I’m jealous.

Mark Reinders:
Those are interesting to see, but sometimes I was a bit worried because I’m a farmer son myself and I know also hearing Europe, let’s say, [inaudible 00:37:44] effect, we also have quite some insolvencies in Europe from hemp processes that didn’t make it. They didn’t have customers in place and farmers not in place. And then the problem is hemp gets a very negative call, because farmers think you plant it, you never get paid, people get bankrupt and then in the end if there comes people in the company that really is taking up the good job and wants to do it right, it’s not able to get farmers because farmers are getting suspicious because there are very negative experiences from colleagues.

Matt Baum:
Or they saw what happened to the guy next door and said, “No.”

Mark Reinders:
Exactly.

Matt Baum:
“I’m not doing that, that’s crazy.”

Mark Reinders:
And that’s what worries me a little bit. In order that hemp in US get successful is really time that a company steps up and tries to do it right this time. Think before you plant, that’s my free advice I wanted to give.

Matt Baum:
It’s a [crosstalk 00:38:42] scary time right now.

Mark Reinders:
Have a look at Europe. We have once a year. This year was online, but the hemp conference of the European International Hemp Association. Technically, there is … The worldwide hemp industry is present there. There’s a lot to learn there, lot to know. Maybe next year it will be real life. Up to them. We do everything at the moment online. It saves me a lot of traveling by the way.

Matt Baum:
We look forward to working with you guys hopefully sometime in the future. I don’t know. I mean, things are still pretty [crosstalk 00:39:12] up in the air and kind of messy, but if you want to come over and show us how it’s done we could use a little guidance, honestly.

Mark Reinders:
Yeah. If they allow me to go over again.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, no doubt. [crosstalk 00:39:22] Yeah, you don’t want to come right now, it’s kind of a mess. Let us clean up this COVID business first.

Mark Reinders:
I will. I’m afraid we’ll stay like that for a while.

Matt Baum:
Yeah, unfortunately. Mark, thank you so much. This has been wonderful. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your time.

Mark Reinders:
No problem.

Final thoughts from Matt

Matt Baum:
I got out of bed early just to do this. I want to send a huge thanks to Bethany who set this interview up. I didn’t realize that Mark was in the Netherlands and it was a little earlier than I expected, but I feel like I still sounded pretty awake. I just want to touch on one of the most interesting things that Mark said in the end of the interview when he brought up that American farmers who are choosing to plant hemp need to make sure they have a customer first and it’s true. One of the major reasons that hemp producers had so many issues last year with their harvest was because there’s just not enough infrastructure in place to take all that hemp and turn it into everything that it needs to be, whether it’s CBD or fiber.

Matt Baum:
Just today, I got an email for someone that was posting a comment on one of our older podcast episodes about how they were a farmer and they needed to know where they could sell their hemp. That is the wrong way to do this. You have to have a plan in place. You just have to. While we encourage everyone to look at growing hemp and get into growing hemp, you still have to make sure that there is infrastructure there and you have the proper connections to get that hemp where it needs to go so you can make money. Because at the end of the day, you got to pay your bills. HempFlax is obviously in a country that is a lot more accepting and helpful when it comes to this kind of stuff and the US is moving in that direction and we’re going to get there. I really do believe that. In the meantime, be careful and just like Mark said, “If you don’t have someone to sell that hemp to, maybe you shouldn’t be growing it.”

Matt Baum:
That brings us to the end of another exciting episode of The Ministry of Hemp podcast. I want to thank everybody that has been listening and downloading and commenting and call with their hemp questions. You can call me at 402-819-6417 with any of your hemp-related questions or you can shoot them to me in an MP3 at [email protected] Nothing is off limits and we love to answer your questions on the show, just like we did in the episode before this one. Next week on the show, we’re going to be talking about a new technology that could revolutionize testing when it comes to hemp and testing is a hot button issue. Remember, you got to keep everything below 0.03% THC. When you have a plant that looks like marijuana and smells like marijuana, it can be very hard to convince certain members of law enforcement that it is in fact hemp and not marijuana.

Matt Baum:
If you need more Ministry of Hemp in your life in the meantime, head over to ministryofhemp.com where we have a fantastic story that is all about CBG. It’s an introduction to, and I’m going to say this totally wrong, but I’m going to try it, Cannabigerol. Actually, I think I nailed it, but Cannabigerol or CBG is very hot right now. This is a great article that will help you understand just exactly what this cannabinoid does and why so many companies are featuring it.

Matt Baum:
You can also follow us on all of our social media @ministryofhemp/ministryofhemp everywhere and if you want to take it a step further head to Patreon/ministryofhemp and become a Ministry of Hemp Insider. It is the best way to help us to get this message of hemp education out to other people and it helps us so very much. Any amount you give makes you a Ministry of Hemp Insider, gets you access to podcast extras, early access to articles and bonus articles too. I cannot say thank you enough to everybody that is already supporting us. Like I said, if you want to help get the word out there, head to Patreon/ministryofhemp.com. Become a Ministry of Hemp Insider. I cannot stress how much it helps us spread the good word of hemp. Speaking of which, at Ministry of Hemp, we believe an accessible world is a better world for everyone, so you can find a full written transcript of this episode in the show notes as well. Huge thanks again to Receptra for being our partners in this one. Check them out at receptranaturals.com and I’ll have a link to their site in the show notes as well that’ll tell you more about their new Serious Rest for nighttime, full spectrum hemp extract with Chamomile.

Matt Baum:
All right, that about does it, but I like to end the show the same way every time, but saying remember to take care of yourself, take care of others and make good decisions, will you? This is Matt Baum with the Ministry of Hemp signing off.

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