Tilray Brands, Inc. recently announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire eight beer and beverage brands from Anheuser-Busch. Tilray will develop current employees, breweries, and brewpubs associated with these brands upon satisfying customary closing conditions in 2023.
Is this move a sign that Tilray is preparing for federal cannabis legalization? Is the company is already making plans to capitalize on the potential of these brands and further expand national distribution?
In a statement, Tilray’s Chairman and CEO Irwin D. Simon stated that they plan to leverage their leadership position in the craft beer industry once federal legalization occurs, while also investing in innovation and championing the future of U.S. craft beer.
This is yet another example of there being two systems within cannabis, with large companies being able to make future plans due to access to capital. At the same time, small brands are forced into making decisions to simply keep their company solvent and continue operating daily.
Tilray’s Growing Footprint in the Craft Beer Market
The acquired brands include Shock Top, Breckenridge Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Company, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Square Mile Cider Company, and HiBall Energy.
The acquisition of these craft beer brands from Anheuser-Busch will give Tilray a greater presence in the U.S. craft beer market and further expand its distribution network. According to Tilray, the transaction is expected to triple its annual beer sales volume from 4 million to 12 million cases sold annually and expand distribution into key markets such as the Pacific Northwest and California.
Andy Thomas, President of The High End at Anheuser-Busch, said about the acquisition, “The talented people behind these brands and breweries, along with our significant investments in them over the years, have positioned them for a bright future with Tilray Brands. We are committed to working with Tilray Brands over the coming months to ensure this is a smooth transition for the people who are working every day to get these amazing beers and beverages to consumers across the U.S.”
Tilray Brand President Ty Gilmore echoed this sentiment, “With this transaction, our beer business is expected to triple in size from 4 million cases to 12 million cases annually. Looking ahead, we will further capitalize on the potential of these brands through product innovation, retailer partnerships, and expanded distribution into key markets.”
This move by Tilray could mean that they are playing the long game and building up operational and logistical capabilities before the federal legalization of THC Infused drinks.
Tilray Preparing for Federal Cannabis Legalization
Tilray’s CEO, Irwin D. Simon had this to say
“Leveraging the deep CPG expertise of Tilray’s leadership team and acquisition integration track record, we intend to drive both revenue and cost synergies while significantly expanding national distribution to coveted markets across the U.S. and internationally. In a matter of three years, Tilray has solidified its leadership position in the craft beer industry, and we fully intend to be that change agent that reinvigorates the sector. Upon federal cannabis legalization, we expect to leverage our leadership position, wide distribution network and portfolio of beloved beverage and wellness brands to include THC-based products and maximize all commercial opportunities.”
Some could see this statement as Tilray preparing for the eventual federal legalization of THC Infused drinks and positioning itself to take advantage of that opportunity once it arrives. Through their investments, partnerships, and acquisition of eight Anheuser-Busch brands, they are better positioned to expand distribution into key markets and provide consumers with craft beer products featuring THC-infused drinks.
Tilray is playing the long game here and making plans for what a post-legalization world could look like for their portfolio of brands. With this acquisition, they now have a larger footprint to operate within when the time comes and could potentially be poised to become an industry leader in craft beer products that feature THC-infused drinks.
Regardless, this move is sure to shake up the craft beer industry and could be an indicator of preparations for federal cannabis legalization. As Tilray continues its expansion in the craft beer market, it will be interesting to see how this acquisition impacts the industry in the years to come. Only time will tell.
But one thing is sure – Tilray Brands is positioning itself to take advantage of the opportunity once it arrives. And with that, they are making a solid statement that federal cannabis legalization is not a matter of if but when.