Custom Foods founder Joe Bisogno spends his time on the cutting edge. He invests where he sees growth potential for the future, and one of the biggest is hemp.

To facilitate education about hemp — a cannabinoid similar to the marijuana plant but without the Delta-9 THC and other finite properties — Mr. Bisogno founded KMC Brands as a think-tank on production and processing of this plant best known as a fiber crop and recently recognized for use in food and pharma. He also started the American Hemp Academy, which focuses on hemp agriculture and education from seed to sale.

Milled hemp is not the same as CBD oil, which is extruded from the plant’s leaves and flowers. CBD currently lacks federal approval for use in food production.

“We can’t put CBD in food,” said Ethan Hart, Custom Foods president.

During a panel at the American Bakers Association (ABA)’s 2019 Technical Conference, Mr. Bisogno explained the health benefits of hemp.  

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“It’s high in Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9,” Mr. Bisogno said. “It’s high in potassium and magnesium, too. The things hemp can do for the human body are phenomenal.”

Custom Foods began R&D on several hemp-based products, including pizza crust, cookie dough and tortillas. There’s just one catch: Hemp has a hefty price tag. It’s difficult to mill because it can easily gum up in traditional equipment, so processing hemp into flour or protein powder requires specific machinery.

At the 2018 iba tradeshow in Munich, Mr. Hart and Mr. Bisogno worked with Treffler Milling Machinery to develop a mill to make hemp flour in-house.

“If we’re going to make products with hemp flour, we need to mill it ourselves,” Mr. Hart said.

The machine was designed to mill hemp cake, the by-product of oil extraction from the seed. Then, its multi-cutter tool grinds the cake into a fine particulate before being milled. Currently, it’s the only mill of its kind in the US and the only one of this type Treffler has designed for US compliance.