Coca-Cola is in 'serious talks' to produce marijuana-infused drinks, according to reports in the United States.
The huge soft drink company is closely watching the fast-growing marijuana drinks market for a possible entry that would expand the world’s largest soft drink maker’s ambitions further away from sugary sodas.
Coca-Cola announced its interest in a statement on Monday, responding to a report from BNN Bloomberg that said it was in talks with Canada’s Aurora Cannabis Inc to develop drinks infused with cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.
Coke would join a rush by major alcohol makers and a cigarette company to test the cannabis market and find partners ahead of the October 17 launch of legal recreational marijuana in Canada.
Coke and Aurora, in separate statements, each said they were interested in cannabidiol-infused beverages but would not comment on any specifics or talks. Aurora’s stock soared 17 percent, while Coke’s edged up slightly.
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The CBD drinks would likely aim to ease inflammation, pain and cramping, the BNN report said.
Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog called the news “an exciting potential development” as it would take Coke into another fast-growing healthier segment following last month’s $5.1 billion deal for Costa Coffee and expand cannabis-infused drinks in the area of functional wellness products.
Beer makers Constellation Brands, Molson Coors and Heineken are all playing in the market for cannabis products. For example, Heineken’s craft beer Lagunitas recently launched Hi-Fi Hops, a beer-flavored sparkling water with THC and CBD.
“The THC beverages probably sit better with the beer makers, and maybe CBD fits better with Coke, in terms of playing off the health trend,” said Liberum analyst Nico von Stackelberg.
Canada is the first major economy to legalize recreational marijuana, and shares in cannabis producers have rallied in anticipation. New Cannabis Ventures' global cannabis stock index has risen about 87 per cent over the past year.
Several US states have legalized marijuana but it remains against federal law.
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