Cannabidiol (CBD) has been rapidly growing in popularity over the past several years. 2018 was a particularly big year for CBD thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which made hemp and hemp-derived CBD products legal in the United States.
But while everyone seems to be focused on CBD oil, capsules, and other dietary supplement forms of CBD, another related market has been quietly expanding — CBD-infused beverages.
Strengthened by the growing consumer awareness of the non-intoxicating benefits of CBD, dozens of companies are beginning to pour billions of dollars into developing CBD-infused drinks.
CBD-Infused Beverages Are Growing in Popularity
One recent trend that exemplifies the growth of this market is CBD-infused coffee being offered at an increasing number of online stores and coffee shops. Just recently, Houston, Texas saw the opening of its first CBD-infused coffee shop, joining the ranks of dozens of similar establishments across the United States.
Events such as these highlight the growing consumer interest in beverages that are designed to not just quench thirst and provide enjoyment but improve health and well-being. Indeed, more and more people are looking for functional beverages that are low in calories, contain vitamins, natural ingredients, and other health-conscious formulations.
However, CBD-infused coffee is just the beginning. CBD is also being added to water, tea, sodas, sports drinks, and even alcoholic beverages. For example, Oregon’s Coalition Brewing recently introduced one of the first CBD-infused beers in the United States.
Similarly, the Heineken-owned Lagunitas beer brand offers a non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused “hoppy sparking water” that contains THC and CBD at legal dispensaries in California.
Meanwhile, Canadian cannabis company CannTrust Holdings is currently working on developing patented nanotechnology that would allow them to produce water-soluble CBD and THC-infused beverages.
Big Beverage Companies Entering the CBD Market
While these are exciting developments, the big news surrounding the potential of the CBD beverage market is that multibillion-dollar beverage companies are starting to invest serious money.
In August 2018, the owner of Corona and Modelo — Constellation Brands — invested $4 billion into Canopy Growth, the largest publicly traded cannabis company based in Ontario, Canada. This brought Constellation’s ownership stake in the company up to 38 percent, signaling their strong interest in developing cannabis-infused beer.
In a similar development, Molson Coors Canada, the Canadian branch of the Molson Coors Brewing Company, recently partnered with the Hydropothecary Corporation, another Canadian cannabis business. The two are working together to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages. Molson Coors expects the cannabis beverage market to reach a value of $3 billion in Canada alone.
Not to be left behind the competition, Anheuser-Busch InBev — the largest brewer in the world — created a joint venture in December with Tilray, another major Canadian cannabis producer. Tilray’s CEO Brendan Kennedy believes CBD-infused beverages are a “massive opportunity” that can create a thriving new market.
The two companies plan to invest a total of $100 million to develop both non-psychoactive CBD drinks and intoxicating THC-infused beverages.
Meanwhile, arguably the biggest name in the beverage industry — Coca-Cola — is reportedly looking to enter the CBD and cannabis beverage market as well. In September 2018, the soda giant was reported to be in talks with Aurora Cannabis, a major Canadian cannabis company with a $6 billion market cap.
Although this potential partnership fell apart in 2019, it is clear that the biggest names in the beverage space have a strong interest in developing drinks infused with CBD and other cannabis preparations.
More importantly, this interest goes both ways, as shown by popular Colorado-based CBD company Charlotte’s Web recruiting former Coca-Cola executive Eugenio Martinez as their Chief Growth Officer in January 2019. This highlights how many CBD brands are looking to expand into the worldwide beverage sector themselves.
CBD-Infused Drinks Available Anywhere
What all of these developments mean is that CBD-infused beverages can soon become available on a mass scale. Whereas CBD and other cannabis products are largely restricted to online shops and licensed dispensaries for the time being, the availability of CBD-infused beverages in supermarkets and other physical stores is just around the corner.
One American business — Life on Earth Inc. — is planning to make CBD-infused drinks available at supermarkets and well-known retailers such as 7-Eleven in the summer of 2019.
Meanwhile, The Alkaline Water Company is also developing CBD-infused alkaline water that will soon hit the shelves. This company already sells its Alkaline88 water in 47,500 stores across the United States, which means their CBD-infused variant will be available to millions of people.
As highlighted by the chairman of the company Aaron Keay, being able to buy CBD products in the supermarket is where the real growth of the CBD market will happen. “Do I just want to be a CBD player in the dispensary market? Absolutely not. I want to be a CBD player in the supermarket places.”
Similarly, the New Age Beverages Corporation is hoping to release its own CBD-infused sparkling water and tea by 2020 to become the first company to release CBD-infused beverages “in real scale and in a professional, responsible way and on a national basis.”
CBD-Infused Beverage Market Could Grow to Tens of Billions
Currently, the cannabis and CBD-infused beverage market in the U.S. has a value of about 89$ million, but this number is expected to grow rapidly. According to one estimate, the American CBD-infused beverage market may grow to $260 million by 2022, with another $340 million being attributed to psychoactive, THC-infused drinks.
Another estimate by food and drink consulting firm Zenith Global expects the U.S. cannabis and CBD-infused market to reach $1.4 billion by 2024. These numbers could easily grow into tens of billions further down the line. In particular, one estimate suggests that if marijuana becomes legal in the U.S. by 2030, it can create a $75 billion-strong market, with CBD-infused beverages contributing a significant portion.
With so many CBD-infused beverage products already being available for purchase in 2019, including sodas, tea, coffee, water, beer, and even wine, the future is full of potential. The idea of going to your local grocery store to buy a CBD-infused soda like it was a bottle of Pepsi may soon become a reality. This is great news not just for companies standing to make billions in profits, but for individuals hoping to reap the health benefits of CBD in a convenient form.