Creating new food additives from hemp

Creating new food additives from hemp

The start-up Becanex wants to extract cannabidiol from industrial hemp. The Berlin-based company has now successfully acquired funding from the Central Innovation Program for SMEs (Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand, ZIM).

Hanfpflanze für die industrielle Nutzung
Industrial hemp is cultivated specifically for the production of hemp fiber.

Hemp is one of the oldest crops in the world. Various parts and species of the plant are used to produce textile fibers, building materials, medicinal products, but also foodstuffs. The food industry relies primarily on the healthy ingredients of the hemp plant, which are rich in proteins, carbohydrates and fats, but also vitamins and minerals. Industrial hemp, on the other hand, is cultivated specifically for industrial use. Compared to those plants used as medicines or intoxicants, industrial hemp has a high fiber content and a very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. The high-tech food start-up Becanex has specialized in extracting cannabidiol (CBD) from industrial hemp in order to make the active ingredient usable for food production. To this end, the Berlin-based start-up was able to secure funding of 227,000 euros from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology's Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM).

Extraction in one step

With the help of the funding, the start-up wants to develop a cannabinoid-containing emulsion that can be stably processed in industrial food production. This is made possible by an extraction process designed by Becanex. The so-called low-pressure extraction eliminates additional steps such as fractionation and purification, as the solvent is separated by expansion and under gentle process conditions in a single step. "By using our patented one-step extraction technology, we can now transfer our technological advantage in extraction to product development. Our goal is to produce an emulsion that is THC-free but otherwise contains all the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant," explains Sebastian Kamphorst, CEO and founder of Becanex.

Basis for cannabinoid-containing food products

The funding was applied for as part of the German-Canadian Cannabis-Net network, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, which supports networking and knowledge sharing among companies in the cannabis market. "The project idea that Becanex can now implement creates new opportunities for the cannabis market and the entire industry. In addition, it provides an interesting starting product for cannabinoid-containing foods, of which we will certainly find more on supermarket shelves after the recent decisions of the Federal Court of Justice," says Simone Graeff-Hönninger, head of the network.