INTERVIEW: Hugh Napier | AlmaStone
Hugh Napier brings a background in commodities trading and financial services to the emerging industrial hemp sectors, with a mission to advance hemp as a new global agricultural commodity. Hugh’s experience includes more than seven years in agricultural commodities trading; he was a trading associate in Cargill’s World Trading Group in Geneva, and a business development executive and trader at ED&F Man Asia.
How fast do you think industrial hemp can find a place among standard
agricultural commodities? What needs to happen to advance hemp in
When thinking of industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity it is
important to think of three distinct agricultural markets:
I do not foresee the market for cannabinoids evolving into an
agricultural commodity but instead expect it to continue to develop
into a nutraceutical or pharmaceutical ingredient market with
localized production centers and tightly controlled integrated supply
chains. An example of a similar market is that of poppy production in
Tasmania, which produces 50 per cent of the world’s legal opioids.
• Fibre and seed:
I expect a functioning international market will be established for
hemp fiber and seed within the next five years. In order to advance
hemp in this respect the merits of hemp as a sustainable substitute
and rotation crop must not only be taught to farmers, but also to
product manufacturers and consumers to ensure sufficient demand
exists for novel goods.
Given the current volatile CBD market worldwide, what would you say
at this moment to an investor looking into the sector?
Opportunity continues to abound in the value chain and at the retail
level worldwide. However, to an investor looking specifically into
the agricultural production or processing of industrial hemp for
cannabinoids I would say to carefully study the market evolution of
the United States industrial hemp industry, which is the cause and
epicenter of global CBD market volatility today.
supply chain participants must realize that the “if you build it,
they will come” approach implemented at the farm and extraction
level in 2019 in the United States has largely failed. As a result,
prospective investors in new production regions must cautiously
assess and conservatively estimate the offtake demand for their crop
or processed extract.
What’s your view on Asia? What makes it an interesting part of the
world for AlmaStone. What would you
say to an investor looking into Asia?
region is a decisive component in the global food chain, accounting
for 19% of total global food and agriculture exports and 31% of total
food and agriculture imports. As
AlmaStone, we provide trade
finance derived liquidity for our Asian customers in both established
and emerging markets in the region, and we see significant
opportunity to grow alongside our Asian agri-businesses partners that
are integrating and consolidating throughout the supply chain.
prospective investors I would say Asia’s large and growing
population, coupled with rising incomes and a burgeoning middle
class, will continue to drive demand for food and agricultural
commodities and resources, however, limited arable land, inadequate
water and poor resource management, environmental and soil
degradation and infrastructure inadequacy are limiting production.
Asia and especially China’s need for imports and investment locally
and abroad is likely to increase presenting opportunities for
external investors throughout the supply chain.
Which hemp sectors offer long-term potential? Where are the real
opportunities among the sectors aside from CBD?
Long-term potential and opportunity exist throughout each hemp sector
regardless of whether the crop is grown for cannabinoids, fiber or
seed. However, the key for participants in each hemp sector is
ensuring business models are scaled to grow appropriately in line
with true offtake demand versus perceived market size.
does AlmaStone offer to a smart entrepreneur?
HN: AlmaStone provides financing solutions at each stage of the supply chain. We have the expertise and knowledge to facilitate international transactions providing entrepreneurs in the agricultural industry a full suite of trade financing facilities to help their business go global.