Coke With Your Cannabis? – CBD craze meets Coca-Cola. After an early morning report yesterday that Coca-Cola is in talks with Canadian cannabis company Aurora about CBD-based wellness beverages, the media went wild with headlines suggesting that the world’s largest beverage company was basically cannonballing into the cannabis industry.
Not so fast.
Cannabis Wire reached out to confirm the report about Aurora, and a Coca-Cola spokesperson declined to comment “on reports and speculation of talks with Aurora or others.”
While Coca-Cola did confirm interest in CBD in a statement published on their site later in the day, they presented it as totally unrelated to the plant … from which CBD is derived.
“We have no interest in marijuana or cannabis. Along with many others in the beverage industry, 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. No decisions have been made at this time.”
While, perhaps, they could be talking about CBD derived from hemp, CBD is still very much part of and one of the most abundant compounds contained in “marijuana or cannabis.”
Let’s be real. This is like saying you are eyeing the chicken nugget market, but have “no interest” in chicken.
it’s unlikely that a major company like Coca-Cola would offer a product infused with CBD in the United States until the federal law changes, said Kris Krane, president of 4Front, a firm that advises companies on the legalities of marijuana and an expert on cannabis law. He said he would expect that Coke would develop the product first for sale in Canada, readying it for the United States once it’s legal.
“I can’t imagine they’re doing it just for the 35 million people in Canada, they clearly have an eye on the US market,” said Krane.
Coke could be well positioned to capture market share should CBD and other marijuana products become legal, said Bonnie Herzog, an analyst with Wells Fargo. She said in a note to clients Monday that Coke is positioning itself for the long-term. She estimates that cannabis-infused drinks could become a $50 billion annual market in the United States — nearly half the size of the $117 billion markets for US beer sales.
Both Coke and rival Pepsico have been trying to expand their businesses beyond traditional soft drinks as people drink less soda because of health concerns. Just last week, Coke announced a deal to buy Costa Coffee for $5 billion.