Forecasted to be worth a potential $22 billion by 2022 according to the Brightfield Group, the global hemp CBD market presents one of the most exciting growth opportunities of the 2000s. Although much of this market’s growth is expected to come from the United States—a country in which marijuana is still federally illegal—companies across North America remain undeterred in their mission to establish a footprint in the U.S. hemp-infused beverage market.
In this report, we take a closer look at some of the companies preparing to dominate what is becoming the world’s largest market for hemp-infused beverages.
Despite the fact that little is known about the company’s upcoming CBD-infused beverages, Canopy Growth Corp. (NYSE: CGC) (TSX: WEED), a world leading diversified cannabis and hemp company, represents one of the shining stars in the hemp-infused beverage space. Not only did it receive a $4 billion investment from Corona brewer Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ and STZ.B) back in November 2018—the marijuana industry’s largest investment to date—the company also announced plans to invest between $100 and $150 million to develop a Hemp Industrial Park in the state of New York.
The importance of Canopy Growth’s investment into a U.S. Hemp Industrial Park—or more specifically, the U.S. hemp supply chain itself—is not to be understated.
In a February 2018 interview with lehighvalleylive.com, Canopy Growth’s future strategic advisor Geoff Whaling was quoted saying,
“We’re going to take it up a notch and look at studying the [hemp] supply chain . . . Collectively we’re going to study what is it going to take, because there is no equipment in America to study processing industrial hemp on a commercial level.”
It was a comment that foreshadowed what CNBC would one year later call a “supply chain riddled with issues”.
Considering its investments in commercial hemp farming logistics, Canopy Growth appears to have one of the strongest foundations in the U.S. hemp-infused beverage market.
The Alkaline Water Company
The Alkaline Water Company (NASDAQ and TSXV: WTER), a leading producer of premium bottled alkaline drinking water sold under the brand name Alkaline88®, continues to expand its national retail footprint as regulations around hemp-infused products are ironed out.
Not only did the company expand its distribution into 30 more Whole Foods stores (resulting in a total of 107 across the United States), but it formed an agreement with Jetro Cash and Carry—one of the United States’ leading wholesale food and beverage suppliers. The agreement will provide over 5,000 independent retailers (ie. restaurants, nonprofit organizations) in Southern California with access to the company’s Alkaline88® 1-liter, 700ml, and 500ml products.
The Alkaline Water Company’s goal seems to be clear: be available in as many locations as possible, whether its a potential customer’s favorite diner or their local supermarket. It’s a strategy that could prove invaluable in the launch of the company’s forthcoming hemp-infused alkaline product line—especially considering the importance of brand awareness in the cannabis industry.
With distribution into tens of thousands of retail locations across the United States already, including Walmart and Krogers, The Alkaline Water Company could become one of the first companies in the world to bring naturally flavoured, hemp-infused alkaline water to the U.S. market.
Back in December 2018, American brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) made headlines with the announcement of a research partnership with Tilray Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY), whereby the two companies would invest up to $50 million each in the research of non-alcholic cannabis-infused beverages.
Although the research partnership is limited to Canada, the commercialization of its outcomes are not—at least not yet. This is likely due to the fact that both companies recognize the immense potential of the hemp-infused beverage market in the United States.
And with global beer sales declining, the growth of the hemp-infused beverage market couldn’t come at a better time for brewers like Anheuser-Busch.
“BUD reported revenue of $14.25 billion in Q4 2018, 2.4% lower than $14.6 billion in Q4 2017. Lower revenue was mainly due to decreasing beer sales and a fall in market share of its flagship brands . . .”
Through the investment of tens of millions of dollars into the development of hemp-infused beverages with Tilray, Anheuser-Busch is both diversifying its product portfolio and establishing itself as an early innovator in the CBD-infused beverage market.
New Age Beverages
With the announcement of its Marley+CBD product line back in January 2018, New Age Beverages Corporation (NASDAQ: NBEV) almost effortlessly transformed itself into one of the early leaders of the CBD-infused beverage space.
Already one of the world’s largest healthy beverage companies, New Age Beverages maintains a diverse portfolio of healthy beverage brands, including Marley, Xing, Búcha, and Coco Libre.
Most recently, the company announced the worldwide expansion of its Noni + Collagen product, a collagen supplement drink based in Tahitian Noni fruit juice. Considering the growing popularity of cannabis-infused topicals for skin care already, it’s not difficult to imagine New Age Beverages spinning off a CBD + Collagen product in the future.
Phivida Holdings Inc. (CSE VIDA and OTCQX: PHVAF), a functional food and beverage company that offers premium beverages and clinical products infused with active hemp extract, recently announced that leading supermarket chain, Safeway, would begin selling its Oki hemp-infused beverages in over 100 stores across Colorado.
The agreement with Safeway marks the first major U.S. retailer to offer the Oki line of iced teas and waters, which will now come infused with 20mg of active hemp extract. Phivida aims to be in over 1,000 outlets in early Q2 2019.
U.S. Hemp Market Attracts Investment
From leading cannabis companies to beer brewers, some of North America’s biggest firms are investing in U.S. hemp assets. At the same time, a handful of beverage companies are snapping up valuable market share in preparation for the United States’ eventual legalization of hemp-infused beverages. Companies that wait on the proverbial “sidelines” to establish beverage market share will likely pay a steep premium when the United States finally legalizes marijuana—especially considering the retail headstart that brands like The Alkaline Water Company will have by that time.