The beverage giant joins with Canada's Tilray to form a $100M research partnership.
TORONTO — AB InBev may be entering a new beverage segment: cannabis-infused drinks.
The international company formed a partnership with Canada's Tilray, a cannabis production and distribution company, to research non-alcohol beverages containing cannabidiol (CBD). The joint venture, which will also explore THC-infused drinks, is limited to Canada and decisions regarding the commercialization of the beverages will be made in the future.
According to the companies, the research pact combines AB InBev's experience in beverages with Tilray's expertise in cannabis products. AB InBev's participation will be through its subsidiary Labatt Breweries of Canada and Tilray's participation will be through its Canadian adult-use cannabis subsidiary High Park Co., which develops, sells, and distributes a portfolio of socially responsible cannabis brands and products in Canada.
Each company intends to invest up to $50 million, for a total of up to $100 million.
"Labatt is committed to staying ahead of emerging consumer trends. As consumers in Canada explore THC- and CBD-infused products, our innovative drive is matched only by our commitment to the highest standards of product quality and responsible marketing," said Kyle Norrington, president, Labatt Breweries of Canada.
"We intend to develop a deeper understanding of non-alcohol beverages containing THC and CBD that will guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities," Norrington added. "We look forward to learning more about these beverages and this category in the months ahead."
As the companies said in a joint release, AB InBev and Tilray believe that the legal market for THC and CBD beverages will thrive if the industry embraces appropriate regulation of adult-use cannabis, including responsible production, marketing, sale and consumption.
"We are delighted to be joining forces with a world-leading beverage company, AB InBev, to research how to create enjoyable cannabis beverage products. Tilray and AB InBev share a commitment to responsible product development and marketing, and we look forward to beginning our work on this important partnership as Tilray continues to pioneer the development of a professional, transparent, and well-regulated cannabis industry," said Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Tilray.
Based in Belgium, AB InBev's portfolio includes global brands Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois; multi-country brands Beck's, Castle, Castle Lite, Hoegaarden and Leffe; and local brands such as Aguila, Antarctica, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, and Modelo Especial.
Labatt Breweries is one of Canada's founding businesses and its leading brewer. The company has more than 3,400 employees, six breweries, three standalone craft brewers, and a portfolio of 60 beers.
Tilray is a global pioneer in the research, cultivation, production and distribution of cannabis and cannabinoids currently serving patients in 12 countries spanning five continents. Based in Toronto, High Park Co. was established to develop, sell, and distribute a broad-based portfolio of cannabis brands and products in Canada.