Photo by Spencer Lowell / Fortune
If you live in Canada, you’ve probably heard of the cannabis giant, Tilray, not only the largest cannabis company in Canada but the world. Now, Tilray is announcing its latest venture, and it surprisingly has nothing to do with cannabis.
Tilray is currently delving into the alcohol industry, and it might seem rather common for a cannabis company to get into the alcohol business, but that’s not the case. In fact, it’s usually alcohol companies who want to step foot into the blossoming cannabis industry.
After Canada legalized cannabis, the movement drove Canadian cannabis valuations to a record high. However, seeing that the United States has taken far too long to legalize the plant on a federal level, Tilray’s new plans to move into the alcohol market will most definitely be a recipe for success.
Tilray initially announced the new business model in early 2021 when they announced their merger with Canadian cannabis company Aphria to create an entirely new business. This merger brought a few significant changes to both companies’ futures.
The first change saw the CEO of Aphria, Irwin Simon, become the CEO of the newfound company. The second was the unexpected addition of the famous American craft beer brand, Sweetwater Brewing Company.
Sweetwater made a name for itself through unique products like the flagship 420 beers. For this reason and many more, Sweetwater looked like the perfect brewer for a cannabis company to purchase, and Apria entered an agreement with Sweetwater in 2021 with a valuation worth $300 million.
However, delving into the land of brews wasn’t the only goal for Simon. He told Forbes that it was important for his company to enter categories that were “adjacencies to the cannabis industry” and brands with that could one day shift over to the cannabis industry once it’s legalized.
Simon told Forbes that he wants the company to be a “branded consumer products company” that focuses on much more than adult-use cannabis and medical cannabis. He wants to leap into the “beer category, the spirits category,” and when it makes sense, they will launch infused foods as they did with their Manitoba harvest business.
There are currently no cannabis companies that own alcohol brands today, and Simon takes pride in his company’s innovative strategies. The new company recently received access to Sweetwater’s established beer distributor network throughout the nation.
This distributor network gave the company a platform to begin rolling out products once they were fully developed. The company also purchased Red Truck Brewing in Ft Collins, Colorado, to act as Sweetwater’s Western U.S. location.
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