Tilray is buying beverage brands from Molson Coors, Anheuser-Busch as cannabis industry struggles

Tilray is buying beverage brands from Molson Coors, Anheuser-Busch as cannabis industry struggles

Dry cannabis flowers inside the packaging room at the Aphria Inc. Diamond facility in Leamington, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

Anne Sakkab | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tilray Brands is expanding its footprint in alcoholic and cannabis beverages, buying up brands from Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch as legal restrictions hamper the marijuana industry.

The major cannabis company announced Friday it will acquire the remaining 57.5% equity ownership of cannabis-infused drinks maker Truss Beverage from Molson Coors Canada. The transaction price was not disclosed.

The move comes amid a broader push by Tilray to branch out from more traditional cannabis products. Tilray announced earlier this month that it would acquire eight beer and beverage brands from Anheuser-Busch for $85 million. It was the latest in a string of craft beer acquisitions that has made Tilray one of the biggest forces in the space in the U.S.

Tilray is one of the largest cannabis companies in the world with a market cap of $1.79 billion. The company also specializes in beverage and wellness products, and has become the fifth largest craft beer company in the U.S.

The Truss acquisition is a part of a larger “diversification strategy” underway at Tilray. As growth in the North American cannabis industry stalls, weed-focused companies aim to expand their portfolios.

THC beverages and craft beer are among the fast-growing beverage sectors that have caught the interest of cannabis executives.

Tilray said the deal to buy the remainder of Truss makes it the leader in adult-use cannabis beverages in Canada, with a combined market share of about 36%.

The company said in a news release that cannabis beverages “present a significant opportunity” to reach legal-aged consumers who haven’t explored cannabis yet. It also expects “regulatory shifts” to fuel substantial growth for the market.

Blair MacNeil, the president of Tilray Canada, said the acquisition will “further diversify our product offerings while broadening our consumer reach.”

It hopes to achieve a similar effect by snapping up beer brands from Anheuser-Busch. Included in the deal announced earlier this month are the brands Shock Top, Breckenridge Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Company, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Square Mile Cider Co., and HiBall Energy.

The transaction includes all of the brands’ current employees, breweries, and associated brewpubs. The deal is expected to triple the size of Tilray’s beer business, increasing its output from 4 million to 12 million cases a year. 

Tilray Brands already owns other craft breweries including Alpine Beer, Green Flash Brewing, Montauk Brewing and SweetWater Brewing.

Even as it diversifies, Tilray aims to become a leader in the U.S. adult-use cannabis market if it gets legalized on the federal level. The lack of reform nationwide and the patchwork of state rules have hampered growth in the U.S.

“Upon federal cannabis legalization,” said CEO Irwin D. Simon in a statement announcing the Anheuser-Busch deal, “we expect to leverage our leadership position, wide distribution network and portfolio of beloved beverage and wellness brands to include THC-based products and maximize all commercial opportunities.”

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