As part of the reopening economy, investors should be monitoring several trends in the healthcare space, including several that fall in the ‘natural wellness’ or ‘natural alternatives’ categories. The COVID-19 pandemic shone a bright light on lifestyle and self-care as people were encouraged, and often mandated, to stay at home. The trend further points to the next phase of cannabis market maturation, dubbed cannabis 3.0, against the backdrop of legislators discussing the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act that would create a national market for marijuana. Looking to address this opportunity, BevCanna Enterprises Inc. (CSE: BEV) (OTCQB: BVNNF) (FSE: 7BC) (Profile) has been expanding and diversifying its business in 2021 from its core business as a high-capacity cannabis beverage company into a diversified health and wellness company through a number of accretive acquisitions. BevCanna is emerging as a leader among a group of companies, including the Valens Company (TSX: VLNS) (OTCQX: VLNCF), Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: NEPT), NewAge Inc. (NASDAQ: NBEV) and AYR Wellness Inc. (CSE: AYR.A) (OTC: AYRWF), that are innovating and taking aggressive approaches to capitalize on the growing cannabis consumer trend moving toward a more wholistic wellness lifestyle business.
- Quince Market Insights estimates the 2021 market will reach $19.89 billion and forecasts that the sector is now positioned to see 27% CAGR.
- BevCanna has completed two significant acquisitions, giving it two cannabis-related licenses and a global presence in natural wellness markets.
- BevCanna operates a 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art beverage production facility with annual capacity of 210 million bottles.
- BevCanna’s acquisition of Embark Health adds revenue and IP as well as a second production facility to increase its asset base to more than $100 million.
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Cannabis 3.0 Has Arrived
Owing to increased use for medicinal purposes, Quince Market Insights sees the global cannabis market ready to accelerate in a big way. The firm estimates the 2021 market will reach $19.89 billion and forecasts that the sector is now positioned to see 27% compound annual growth.
Cannabis 1.0 was the legalization of the plant, and 2.0 was the introduction of derivatives into the market such as edibles and other consumables. With cannabis 3.0 on the horizon, and U.S. legalization looming, cannabis is becoming normalized, and consumers are integrating it into their everyday lives, as an ingredient in mainstream products in everything from drinks and pharmaceuticals to personal hygiene and beauty products.
The upcoming widespread applications have underscored market activity as companies position for the future. BevCanna Enterprises Inc. (CSE: BEV) (OTCQB: BVNNF) (FSE: 7BC) has been a standout, diversifying already robust operations and acquiring innovative wellness brands and companies that expand its product offering and manufacturing capabilities to new channels such as direct to consumer e-commerce, high-growth adult-use cannabis products, hemp-derived CBD products, and wellness-focused noncannabis products bridging the intersection of two of the fastest-growing consumer categories: wellness and cannabis.
BevCanna leadership has decades of experience creating, branding, and manufacturing iconic brands, with CVs including positions at the likes of Rogers, Best Buy, SC Johnson, Walmart, Pepsi, Costco, Colgate, and more. The company owns in-house brands Anarchist Mountain, Pure Therapy and the innovative TRACE water & supplement brand, along with partner brands Keef Brands in its portfolio. As the United States moves towards federal cannabis legalization, the Keef partnership provides wide exposure to more than 1,000 U.S. dispensaries. With the acquisitions of Naturo Group and Pure Therapy complete, BevCanna just inked another company-maker-type of deal.
Naturo Group: A Company Maker on Its Own
BevCanna planted its flag in the wellness space in November 2020 with an agreement to purchase Naturo Group, a company that had been a close partner since 2017. The acquisition brought in about $38 million in assets, including a British Columbia-based, 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, HACCP-certified beverage manufacturing facility with capacity of 210 million bottles annually in PET/RPET, aluminum and glass formats; a pristine onsite alkaline spring water source; 315-acres of land for outdoor cultivation purposes; and proprietary Health Canada-approved fulvic and humic plant-based mineral formulation. The land and alkaline spring water source alone are valued at more than $28 million, a true value proposition for a company with a market capitalization around $56 million. In addition, BevCanna already has government approval to expand its facility to 170,000-square-feet for CPG and cannabis purposes.
With the Naturo Group acquisition, BevCanna brought the TRACE brand under its umbrella, a leading mineralized water and supplement brand that is sold in more than 3,000 Canadian retail locations, and is actively expanding into the U.S. market with an initial focus on California, Illinois and New York markets. While mostly supported by anecdotal evidence, fulvic acid is heralded as a natural supplement and immune system enhancer for warding off a variety of diseases and conditions, including allergies, eczema and even Alzheimer’s disease. The products catalog contains a variety of alkaline and natural spring waters, plant-based mineral concentrate, plant-based mineralized shots and more.
The acquisition of Naturo Group came only a month after BevCanna agreed to acquire Pure Therapy, a natural health product company selling a range of meticulously crafted goods, including nutraceutical and hemp-based cannabidiol products, through its e-commerce platform across North America and Western Europe. At the time of acquisition, Pure Therapy had a base of approximately 23,000 customers, which BevCanna has already grown by about 15%, with 3,270 new active customers. The company also plans to accelerate growth by leveraging the decades of marketing expertise that the Pure Therapy’s team brings to the table.
BevCanna plans to launch its own nutraceuticals and CBD products into the global health and wellness market, including the burgeoning U.S. CBD space. The company has a jump start in the lucrative U.S. markets through Pure Therapy and its partnership with Keef Brands, a top U.S. cannabis-infused beverage company.
Embark Health, $100 Million in Assets
Last week, BevCanna made another significant acquisition, entering a definitive agreement to buy Embark Health Inc. for C$21 million. The all-stock transaction valued BEV stock at C$0.45, a 33% premium to the average price of the stock for the five days leading into the deal being disclosed.
Embark has extensive manufacturing and intellectual property assets related to high-end solventless cannabis extracts such as bubble hash, traditional pressed hash, rosin, dry sift and its best-selling Hazel Hash Stick. Embark also boasts the capacity to manufacture cannabis concentrates, liquids, powder beverage mixes, topicals and edible products. The company generated C$790,000 in revenue at ~65% gross margin in the last three months through its four adult-use brands. The potential resonates in the deal’s details, which include earn-out payments to Embark shareholders if revenue reaches $92.18 million within three years.
The acquisition also gives BevCanna part of health and wellness product company ProteinQuest, for which Embark is the majority shareholder. Folding in Embark is beneficial to BevCanna in multiple ways including the combined company totaling more than $100 million in assets on the balance sheet.
In addition, the already impressive management team at BevCanna is also gaining some new faces, namely Bruce Dawson-Scully (founder and CEO of WeedMD); Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson (best known for being the founding pioneer of bubble hash); Michael West (global extraction expert who has developed, designed and built more than a dozen world-class extraction facilities for companies such as Cresco Labs (CSE); and Curtis Leifso, an expert in enhanced bioavailability drug-delivery technology.
Move Now or Pay Later
Savvy companies are seeing the trend shifts happening and making moves to get in front of them to maximize market share. Some companies are stepping into the cannabis space while others are diversifying within the cannabis market, and some are expanding from the cannabis space into the broader health and wellness markets. Regardless of the strategy, the moves are making noise and getting investors’ attention.
The Valens Company (TSX: VLNS) (OTCQX: VLNCF), a leading manufacturer of cannabis products, has been active with acquisitions to grow its company. On Sept. 1, 2021, Valens completed the acquisition of Verse Cannabis, a pioneer in the value segment that quickly emerged following its launch in August 2020. That was only one day after the company inked an agreement to acquire Citizen Stash Cannabis Corp in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $54.3 million on an enterprise value basis. Valens expects the acquisition of the licensed producer to be accretive in 2021 and 2022 before synergies.
Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: NEPT), a diversified health and wellness company, is focused on building a portfolio of high-quality, affordable consumer products in response to long-term secular trends and market demand for natural, plant-based, sustainable, and purpose-driven lifestyle brands. Quebec-based Neptune has 130 SKUS across eight brands spanning cannabis, organic food and beverage, and personal care and beauty that are sold at 20,000 retail locations. During Q1 fiscal 2022, Neptune generated revenue of $12.4 million, exceeding guidance and beating the year prior quarter by 83%.
NewAge Inc. (NASDAQ: NBEV) commercializes a portfolio of organic and healthy products worldwide primarily through a direct-to-consumer distribution system. Colorado-based NewAge competes in three major category platforms — health and wellness, healthy appearance, and nutritional performance — and leads a network of more than 400,000 exclusive independent distributors and brand partners around the world. NewAge is looking to build on a record $124 million in revenue during its second quarter, in part by partnering with social-selling technology firm Kwikclick to launch an affiliate marketing platform and collaborate on transforming the traditional influencer and social selling influencer model.
AYR Wellness Inc. (CSE: AYR.A) (OTC: AYRWF), a vertically integrated cannabis multistate operator, has had a busy September. In a matter of a few weeks, AYR has opened Liberty Health Sciences West Pensacola, its 41st operating dispensary in Florida; launched its Origyn Extracts premium concentrates line in Pennsylvania and advanced more acquisition deal flow. The company now has a binding letter of intent to acquire PA Natural Medicine LLC, an operator of three licensed retail dispensaries in Pennsylvania, and a definitive agreement to acquire Cultivauna LLC, the owner of Levia-branded cannabis-infused seltzers and water-soluble tinctures.
The cannabis market has been in a bit of a lull lately as many investors wait for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to make their next move. Companies, however, aren’t waiting. The market is quickly approaching an inflection point in a post-COVID economy, and those who hesitate just may get left behind — or at least pay dearly to catch up.
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