Tilray to acquire Manitoba Harvest

The licensed producer is extending into a new category by acquiring the hemp-based food company.

Canadian licensed cannabis producer Tilray has acquired FHF Holdings, parent company of hemp-based food company Manitoba Harvest, from private equity firm Compass Group Diversified Holdings.

Manitoba Harvest is a market leader in the hemp-based food category, with branding including Hemp Hearts, Hemp Yeah! granola and protein powder and Hemp Bliss milk. It products are currently sold in 16,000 store locations across Canada and the U.S., from small health food stores, to major retailers like Walmart, to e-commerce sites like Amazon.

The company’s products currently do not contain any THC or CBD, but it  does plan to launch a line of CBD products this summer selling in places south of the border where edibles are already legal, such as California. Then selling in Canada when edibles become legal, which is expected to happen by this fall.

The deal gives Manitoba Harvest access to Tilray’s expertise working with cannabinoids to help it develop its CBD-based health and wellness products. For Tilray, it expands its product portfolio into natural foods (a category where demand for CBD is particularly high) as well as access to manufacturing facilities and an established network of retailers.

Brendan Kennedy, Tilray’s president and CEO, said in a release that the acquisition builds on the company’s partnerships in other consumer product categories, and is the latest moved by Tilray to advance its position within the cannabis-infused food and beverage space. In December, it announced a partnership with brewing giant AB InBev to research THC- and CBD-based, non-alcoholic beverages.

The announcement also reaffirmed Tilray’s efforts to gain leadership in the CBD space, with the company saying in a press release that is plans to use to acquisition to accelerate its expansion into CBD markets in both Canada and the U.S., where sale of infused products is already legal in some states. CBD has, in recent months, become of major focus of the cannabis industry amid high consumer interest in its purported health and wellness benefits, without a psychoactive or intoxicating effect.

Other Canadian players, such as Greenhouse, have also said they plan to sell CBD-infused products by the end of 2019.