Coca-Cola Rumored to Produce CBD-Infused Recovery Beverage
A new company has entered into the growing group of mainstream corporations exploring the capitalization on legal pot: Coca-Cola. For those who know that Coke’s original recipe contained coca leaf extract, it might not be much of a surprise that the company is now looking to the relaxant of the modern age, cannabidiol (CBD), as a future drink ingredient.
Hemp-derived CBD is now increasingly being found at cafes and juice bars as a health food add-on ingredient for drinks and smoothies. This has been in addition to the flood of prepackaged CBD-infused products hitting mainstream grocery store shelves, from hemp powder to canned concoctions like CBD cold brews. The health benefit claims made by these companies are wide-ranging and occasionally attract attention from the FDA, but a little government reprimand hasn’t stopped companies from moving ahead in pursuit of the next great health food obsession.
Source says Coca-Cola is in Talks with Aurora to Make a CBD Drink
Never known to shy away from experimenting with its drink formula (occasionally to its detriment), Coca-Cola is apparently in “serious talks” with Canadian cannabis giant Aurora Cannabis to make CBD-infused drinks, a source told BNN Bloomberg. Someone with “direct knowledge of the talks between the two companies” told the publication that the two companies are “pretty advanced down the path of doing a deal,” explaining that the beverage is intended to be a “recovery drink.”
Both companies themselves remain hush on the deal, which would mean Coca-Cola’s entry into a CBD market that’s estimated to balloon to $2.1 billion by 2020 alone. Coca-Cola spokesperson Kent Landers didn’t comment on the Aurora deal when prompted by BNN Bloomberg, saying only, “along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of … CBD as an ingredient.”
On Aurora’s end, other than saying that the cannabis company “has expressed specific interest in the infused beverage space and intends to enter that market,” spokesperson Heather MacGregor had no comment on the Coca-Cola deal. “As a rule,” she told the publication, “we do not discuss business development initiatives until they are finalized.”
Coca-Cola, Aurora Reap the Financial Benefit of Collaboration Rumors
After the news broke, shares of both companies rose in value on the NYSE. Whether the news comes on the back of an actual deal or is just hot smoke as of now is unclear. But even if Coca-Cola wasn’t seriously considering entering into the CBD market beforehand, the stock bump—while only 0.72% to Aurora’s 16.86%--is still a boon following the 15.5% revenue dip the company took in 2017. This has led to them experimenting with an alcoholic beverage in Japan, making it more likely than not that they are actually looking for a CBD supplier.
When Landers discussed Coca-Cola’s interest in CBD he stressed its non-psychoactivity, implying that despite the existence of branded Japanese alcopops, it’s unlikely that the beverage giant is about to dive into THC drinks. It’s certainly possible to isolate CBD from the other cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis but it’s much easier to do so with industrial hemp, which is likely why Aurora has been investing in large-scale producers of the plant like Hempco. (According to New Cannabis Ventures, the company is “one of the world’s largest industrial producers of hemp and hemp products” including hemp food products like protein powder and oil.)
Coca-Cola Looking for Large-Scale CBD Producers
It turns out that Aurora wasn’t the only company Coca-Cola reached out to, BNN Bloomberg reports; also consulted was the Ontario-based Aphira, Inc. Beverage analyst Vivien Azur told the publication that the company Tilray is also a strong contender for the job considering “their scale.” Azur explained that Coca-Cola was likely to only be the first of many mainstream beverage companies making CBD drinks, saying she wouldn’t “be surprised to hear of a deal from Pepsico, Inc. … with CBD seemingly [being] a good complement to their market share-leading Gatorade franchise.”
With Canada recently launching legal recreational marijuana, it’s likely that the country will also act as the test market for whatever CBD concoctions Coca-Cola whips up.
For what it’s worth—which is a lot—it seems like even just the early rumors of pot-involvement are already giving the company a much-needed boost. And that’s something for the company and its shareholders—as well as cola enthusiasts—to cheers to.