According to media reports in the US and UK, Soft-drink giant Coca-cola are considering plans to develop a range of CBD infused beverages.
Bloomberg BNN reported that talks have already taken place between Coca-cola and a major Canadian cannabis producer although a decision on any partnership is not thought to be imminent.
Coca-Cola spokesman Kent Landers confirmed that Coca-cola was actively monitoring the current CBD boom which has led to the rapid creation of a multi-billion dollar industry.
According to a recent report in the Hemp Business Journal, the CBD market is expected to grow to around $2 billion by 2020, growing from just over $200 million in 2015.
“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.”
Major Companies Jump on the CBD Bandwagon
Coca Cola's interest in developing a line of CBD soft drinks should come as little surprise with the company reporting declining sales over the past 12 months with their reported annual revenue of $35.4 billion in 2017, down a whopping 15% from 2016.
With an increasing number of people becoming increasingly concerned about the dangers of sugary soft drinks, the Coca-cola brand has undergone a major revamp in recent years with a new line of “healthier” products designed to win back those consumers who are now far more health-savvy than in years gone by.
The company also recently announced their purchase of the Costa Coffee chain for $5.1 billion having already expanded into other products including juice, tea and mineral water as they look to diversify amid an ever-changing consumer landscape.
A jump to the CBD bandwagon, therefore, seems perfectly plausible with Coca-cola potentially becoming the latest brand looking to cash in on the ongoing CBD buzz.
Indeed, Coca-cola are not the first, and certainly won’t be the last company to investigate the potential benefits associated with launching a new line of CBD infused products.
In August, Canadian brewer Molson Coors announced their partnership with Quebec’s Hexo Corp, a Canadian cannabis producer amid their intention to develop a line of “non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market following legalization”.
Corona beer brewer Constellation Brands Inc also announced recently that they will invest $3.8 billion to increase their stake in Canopy Growth Corp., another Canadian cannabis producer, in a move that represents the biggest ever single investment in the cannabis industry.
It has also been revealed that Diageo, the maker of Guinness beer, are holding discussions with at least three Canadian cannabis producers while Heineken NV’s Lagunitas craft-brewing label has launched a brand specializing in non-alcoholic drinks infused with THC.
Should Coca-cola follow through on their reported CBD interest, they would be the first major non-alcoholic drinks manufacturer to launch a line of CBD infused soft drinks.
As a result of the speculation, interest in Canadian cannabis companies surged on the stock market with the figures below showing a rapid increase in value in share prices over the past month.
Clearly, with more and more companies looking to invest in cannabis, the market (particularly in Canada) would appear to have serious potential for growth over the coming years.
While the attention of Coca-cola may well be financially beneficial to some of the cannabis companies mentioned in the partnerships earlier in this article, there are many unanswered questions surrounding the growing concerns of this kind of CBD innovation and what it means for the industry.
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CBD Innovation - Where are we going?
With CBD appearing in our mainstream media on an almost daily basis, an increasing number of brands are forming a not so orderly line to create “CBD Whatever”. Where does it all end?
From CBD coffee to CBD Tea, you can now find dozens of products pertaining to contain CBD but with so little understanding of bioavailability, or the unknown dangers of mixing CBD with these items, can we really believe that there is true value in this kind of CBD innovation?
There are many new and frankly odd ways of consuming CBD and while there is definitely worth in some of these innovations, others would appear to be nothing more than cheap marketing.
You only need to look at the THC market for edibles to witness the absurd methods in which people are now looking to consume cannabis products. Cannabis Cotton Candy. Do we really need this?
Increasingly, we are seeing a worrying potential for CBD to become monetized, monopolized and marketed in a way that does nothing to add to the value of this wonderful plant.
In New York, we have seen bars that are now adding shots of CBD oil to their cocktails (and adding $$ to the price). Is there any research that indicates CBD should, in fact, be mixed with alcohol?
When we allow a wonderful gift from nature to be corrupted by man-made marketing, it not only undermines the beauty in that gift, but it also serves to devalue the time and effort put in by those who have worked day and night to to fight for the CBD revolution we are currently witnessing.
It is also of particular concern that consumers who have never heard of CBD until they find themselves in front of a cheap and inferior CBD product may well consider that CBD itself could be nothing more than a marketing man’s vivid imagination and may miss the other vast potential benefits.
Sadly, there are both profiteers and pioneers in this world and we must always ensure that the latter defeats the former.
Reputations take years to build up but can be destroyed in a matter of moments and with cannabis and CBD already fighting years of stigma at both social and political levels, it is essential that this kind of CBD innovation does not interfere with the growing and respected reputation that CBD has firmly established in recent years.
It is now evident that an increasing number of brands will try to muscle in on the CBD market, with grandiose ideas of helping society, when in reality, their ideas and intentions are purely financial.
More than ever, it is vital that more regulations are introduced by the powers that be, to ensure that any product supposedly containing CBD must be thoroughly tested for its safety and authenticity.
Of course, there is always room for innovation in our society, but there is no doubt that our country will always move forward when we use our collective intelligence to develop new ideas and ideals that actually serve to better our people and not just those few who dine at societies head-table.