Canada hemp food pioneer and industry major Manitoba Harvest has been acquired by New York stock exchange-listed, Canada-based natural food company Tilray Inc for up to C$419 million (US$319m) in a cash and share transaction. The acquisition by Tilray comes after Manitoba Harvest was acquired by Compass Group in June 2015. Manitoba Harvest had sales of over C$40 million in 2014.

The move also follows the December 20, 2018 signing of the U.S. Farm Bill by President Donald Trump, which for the first time differentiates between hemp and marijuana products and removes industrial hemp from the US list of controlled substances.

See The US legalizes hemp

The deal brings together a cannabis pioneer and a leading natural food CPG company to create hemp and CBD-infused food and wellness products for North America. Upon completion of the acquisition, Manitoba Harvest will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tilray, with plans to launch a Manitoba Harvest line of CBD containing Broad Spectrum Hemp Extracts as well as a line-up of Hemp Yeah! wellness bars this summer.

Tilray said in a company release on February 20 that Manitoba Harvest, founded in 1998, is the world’s largest hemp food manufacturer and a leader in the natural foods industry. It produces, manufactures, markets and distributes a broad-based portfolio of hemp-based consumer products, which are sold in over 16,000 stores at major retailers across the U.S. and Canada, such as Hemp Hearts™, Hemp Oil™, Hemp Yeah! ™ granola, Hemp Yeah! ™ protein powder and Hemp Bliss™ milk.

"Tilray, Inc., a global leader in cannabis research, cultivation, production and distribution, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Tilray will acquire all of the issued and outstanding securities of FHF Holdings Ltd. (“Manitoba Harvest”), from Compass Group Diversified Holdings, LLC and other shareholders of Manitoba Harvest," Tilray Inc. said.

"Tilray and Manitoba Harvest plan to grow both companies’ revenue while bringing nutritious hemp foods and supplements to more households across the U.S. and Canada. The acquisition will expand Tilray’s product portfolio into the natural foods category and bring Manitoba Harvest expertise in working with cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD).

"By leveraging Manitoba Harvest’s established distribution network, Tilray plans to accelerate its expansion into the U.S. and Canadian markets, where legal, for CBD products. Manitoba Harvest also brings to Tilray an experienced team and manufacturing capabilities, including the addition of two high-quality BRC AA+ certified manufacturing facilities as well as significant sales and distribution capabilities."  

Brendan Kennedy, Tilray president, and CEO said: “Tilray’s acquisition of Manitoba Harvest is a milestone for the cannabis industry. It builds on the strategic partnerships we have formed with consumer brand industry leaders and demonstrates our track record of disrupting the global pharmaceutical, alcohol, CPG, and functional food and beverage categories." Tilray will work with Manitoba Harvest to develop and distribute a diverse portfolio of branded hemp-derived CBD food and wellness products in the U.S. and Canada, he said.

 “We are excited about being an important part of the growth strategy for Tilray,” said Bill Chiasson, Manitoba Harvest CEO. “By leveraging our combined strengths and capabilities, we will be able to accelerate our mission of transforming consumer health through the power of hemp.” The transaction is expected to close shortly.