AB InBev Joins the Cannabis-Beverage Fray

Brewer partners with Canadian distributor
Photograph: Shutterstock

TORONTO, CANADA -- Anheuser-Busch parent company AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, is partnering with Tilray, a global pioneer in cannabis production and distribution, to research nonalcohol beverages containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The partnership is limited to Canada, where cannabis products became legal for recreational use as of Oct. 17, and decisions regarding the commercialization of the beverages will be made in the future.

The research partnership 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, one of the country’s founding businesses and its leading brewery, 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, the companies said. 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," said Kyle Norrington, president of Labatt Breweries of Canada. "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 nonalcohol beverages containing THC and CBD that will guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities.”

Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Toronto, Canada-based Tilray, added, “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.”

With strong track records of responsible product development and marketing in their respective industries, AB InBev and Tilray said they believe that the legal market for THC and CBD beverages will only thrive if the industry embraces appropriate regulation of adult-use cannabis, including responsible production, marketing, sale and consumption.

Several other major beer brewers and importers, including Constellation Brands, FIFCO USA, Molson Coors, Heineken and Diageo, have also expressed interest in investing in or developing cannabis-based drinks.

Belgium-based AB InBev is the brewer of Budweiser, Stella Artois and many other beers and nonalcohol beverages.

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