On Wednesday, Tilray Inc (NASDAQ:TLRY) announced that it would be working with Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (NYSE:BUD) to research cannabis beverages. Unlike most beverage deals we’ve seen thus far, the research won’t be limited to drinks containing cannabidiol (CBD). Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives users a high from marijuana, will also be included in the research. However, that could just relate to small amounts of THC.
Nonetheless, it’s another deal involving the beverage industry. And if it proves to be successful, it could lead to an even bigger one between the two companies. Under the current deal, each company will contribute $50 million toward the research efforts. It’s not a big commitment for the beverage giant just yet, as for Anheuser this is the company just taking exploratory steps in deciding if it wants to get involved in cannabis beverages. It will be Anheuser’s subsidiary, Labatt Breweries of Canada, that will be working closely with Tilray on the research.
Labatt’s President Kyle Norrington was very clear that the end goal would be to help guide future decisions, stating in the news release that “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. We intend to develop a deeper understanding of non-alcohol beverages containing THC and CBD that will guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities.”
Could more deals be on the way?
For a while it appeared as though beverage companies were losing interest in the cannabis industry as we hadn’t heard much beyond rumours lately. While we’ve seen Molson Coors Canada and Constellation Brands, Inc. get involved, other big companies are still sitting on the sidelines. However, with Tilray working with Anheuser and Aphria Inc recently securing a deal with a big tobacco company, the number of cannabis companies that don’t have a deal with another industry is starting to shrink, and that may put pressure not only on pot stocks, but on companies in other industries that haven’t made a decision just yet.
With the U.S. legalizing hemp-derived CBD and Canada expected to legalize edible marijuana next year, the market for beverages could get very big very soon. Companies that don’t get a deal could fall behind their peers, and that’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more deals in the weeks and months ahead.
Why now could be a great time to invest in pot stocks again
The cannabis industry has been struggling lately with many stocks continuing to fall in price and reverse many of the gains that were achieved this year. Investors have effectively been given the option to reset and buy back into the industry at a reduced price. Although Tilray’s returns are still incredible for the year, the stock has declined by more than 30% in the past month. As legalization continues to progress in the U.S. and with Canadian companies reporting their first post-legalization earnings, there could be a lot of excitement in the industry in 2019 that could drive share prices back up.