Coca-Cola eyes move into cannabis drinks

Coca-Cola is the latest drinks giant to be eyeing up a move into the burgeoning cannabis drinks category and is reportedly in talks with Canadian cannabis producer Aurora to develop drinks infused with CBD.

According to Bloomberg, Coca-Cola is keen to tap into the trend for cannabis drinks as fizzy drinks sales slow due to a dip in demand for sugary sips.

Bloomberg reports that the Atlanta-based drinks giant is closely monitoring the growth of drinks infused with CBD – the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that is used for medical purposes to ease everything from inflammation and cramping to epilepsy.

“We are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world – the space is evolving quickly,” Coca-Cola spokesman Kent Landers told Bloomberg News.

Heather MacGregor, a spokeswoman for Aurora, told Bloomberg that the cannabis producer is interested in entering the CBD-infused drinks space.

Aurora is Canada’s third-largest cannabis maker, with a market value of C$8.7 billion. Its shares surged by as much as 23% in New York yesterday after the news emerged of a potential Coca-Cola collaboration.

Coca-Cola is the latest in a growing line of drinks companies to have shown an interest in the production of cannabis drinks.

Drinks giant Constellation Brands, owner of Corona, was one of the first firms to throw its hat into the ring and last month announced plans to invest a further $4 billion in Canadian cannabis maker Canopy Growth Corp to increase its stake in the company to 38%.

UK-based Diageo is also keen for a slice of the action and is currently in talks with no less than three different Canadian cannabis producers with the view to developing its own line of CBD-infused drinks.

Brewers are also interested in entering the cannabis drinks game. Molson Coors has embarked on a joint venture with Quebec’s Hexo’s Corp to develop a range of cannabis drinks in Canada.

Meanwhile, Heineken’s Lagunitas label has launched a brand specialising in non-alcoholic drinks infused with THC, marijuana’s active ingredient.

As fizzy drinks sales continue to slide, Coca-Cola is on a diversification drive, adding teas, juices and mineral waters to its portfolio and acquiring the Costa Coffee chain for US$5.1 billion in August. Cannabis will become legal in Canada on 17 October this year.

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