A report by Martín Caballero for Bevnet.
New Age Beverages Corporation is increasing its interest in the emerging market for cannabis-infused drinks, today announcing an agreement to develop and distribute cannabis-infused beverages for Marley Beverage Company.
As part of the deal, Marley, which markets canned beverages inspired by reggae legend Bob Marley, will launch a three-SKU line of CBD-infused relaxation drinks called Mellow Mood +CBD in Q1.
New Age also sells ready-to-drink cold brew coffee and yerba mate drinks under the Marley brand, as well as a line of zero calorie relaxation teas also called Mellow Mood. The Denver, Colo.-based company merged business operations with Marley Beverage Company in 2016.
The agreement is a 50-50 profit-sharing partnership with Docklight, a division of Privateer Holdings, which holds the exclusive license to produce and distribute cannabis-infused products under the Marley Natural brand.
“Marley and cannabis infused beverages is kind of a match made in heaven,” said New Age CEO Brent Willis in a call with BevNET, noting that the Marley family is “heavily involved” with the brand. “In the beverage industry, people buy products based on functional benefits, based on taste, but they also buy based on the emotional connection that they have. With this brand, we are really bottling ‘don’t worry, be happy’ in a can.”
Available in Herbal Honey, Lemon Raspberry and Peach Raspberry varieties, Mellow Mood +CBD will contain 25 mg of full spectrum hemp-derived CBD in each 15.5 oz. can. The product will begin rolling out to stores in Colorado, Oregon, Michigan and Washington — all states in which recreational cannabis use is legal — in the first quarter of this year.
The deal with Marley is the latest step taken by New Age, a publicly traded company, to reinforce its position within the nascent cannabis beverage market. The company shared a first look at its initial CBD-infused beverage portfolio — CBD WTR, CBD Tea and CBD Shot — during the 2018 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) trade show in Las Vegas in October. Last month, New Age announced plans for a $85 million merger with Utah-based Morinda Inc., which would create a $300 million global company with operations in over 60 countries.
Willis told BevNET that the company was working on a Marley-branded CBD-infused cold brew at NACS 2018, but was non-committal when asked if that product was still forthcoming. He said instead that Mellow Mood +CBD is the “initial part” of Marley’s cannabis-infused drink portfolio and that the company has “other things in the queue.” While noting that he viewed the +CBD line as complementary to the existing Mellow Mood relaxation teas, Willis said the company “will see” if the teas are phased out or continued.
Speaking of the overall potential for New Age to develop Marley-branded cannabis-infused beverages, Willis said he expects big things to come, particularly after showcasing the Marley CBD line at Winter Fancy Foods Show 2019 in San Francisco this weekend, which he described as “our most successful show ever.”
“We think it will be the biggest thing that we’ve ever done,” he said. “Ultimately our view is that there may be tobacco players, pharmaceutical players, alcoholic players, and major distributors in this [cannabis drink] space. The germane point if you have so many competitors coming in is how are you going to win? The answer is we don’t just have a product that’s infused with CBD; we have a relaxation drink that is specifically formulated for relaxation and is unique for anyone else. And we are gaining first mover national advantage.”