Canadian cannabis firm Tilray buys world’s largest hemp-based food producer

Canadian cannabis company Tilray Inc completed its US$318M acquisition of Manitoba Harvest, the world’s largest provider of hemp-based foods, on 28 February.

Manitoba Harvest produces and sells hemp-based consumer products in Canada and the USA including hemp oil, hemp granola, hemp protein powder, and hemp milk.

Tilray is a production and distribution specialist of medical cannabis including cannabis oil extracts and dried cannabis.

“This acquisition will expand Tilray’s product portfolio into the natural foods category and bring Manitoba Harvest’s expertise in working with cannabinoid compounds, including cannabidiol (CBD), to Tilray,” the company said in a press release. “By leveraging Manitoba Harvest’s established distribution network, Tilray plans to accelerate its expansion into the US and Canadian markets, where legal, for CBD products.”

Tilray said it planned to launch a line of CBD-containing hemp extracts and hemp wellness bars this summer.

According to GAI News, Tilray is the largest cannabis company in the world, reaching a valuation of US$12bn in May 2018, and with a market capitalisation of some US$20bn.

Tilray president and CEO Brendan Kennedy noted last year that the cannabis industry was in the midst of a worldwide paradigm shift.

The 2018 US Farm Bill had legalised the industrial production of hemp in the country and removed it from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively treating it as a mainstream commodity crop, GAI News wrote.

Marijuana and hemp, which belong to the cannabis plant family – contain a variety of different compounds called cannabinoids, the two most common ones being cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC induces psychoactive effects (a ‘high’) while CBD does not contain any psychoactive properties.

Hemp contains a very low concentration of THC while marijuana has 15%-40% THC. Because of this, hemp is mainly grown for industrial purposes while marijuana is grown for recreational and medicinal purposes. However, with the fast-growing popularity of CBD, hemp is also used to produce a wide variety of THC-free CBD products. (Read about the booming CBD market in the forthcoming March/April issue of Oils & Fats International).