Wunder is one brand shaking things up in this corner of the cannabis market. The brand touts itself as "low-dosed, low-calorie and all-natural" for the health-conscious. It also serves an option for those who would like to explore THC to relax, but eschew traditional ways of getting high, such as joints and edibles.
"We believe cannabis-infused beverages are the future because of the innovation that’s taking place with functional drinks and because of the way people relate culturally through drinking," Wunder co-founder and CEO Alexi Chialtas told Benzinga.
The company launched its first line of products last year exclusively with San Francisco-based dispensary The Apothecarium. And since then, there's been no shortage of competition.
Pabst Blue Ribbon — the 19th Century beer that is now America's largest brewer — debuted its cannabis-infused sparkling water at certain cannabis shops in California. The drink doesn't contain beer or alcohol, but — like Wunder — a few milligrams of THC.
And one of the largest deals ever made in the cannabis space was between spirits giant Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ), maker of Modelo Especial beer and Svedka vodka, and Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC). Constellation owns a 39% equity stake in the cannabis company and has big plans for a beverage rollout.
There's also SHOKi, Calexo, House of Saka, Artet and celebrity-backed Cann.
Despite the long list of rivals, Wunder's timing is right: Grand View Research projects the CBD-infused beverage space will reach $2.8 billion by 2025. And by 2029, the global cannabis market could inflate to $130 billion, with CBD beverages making up a significant chunk of business.
Read on to hear Chialtas' thoughts on this growing trend, how his previous life in tech and gaming set the stage for his work in cannabis and what the future holds for Wunder now that recreational weed is becoming legal in more states (i.e. New York).
BZ: What inspired you to launch a THC beverage as opposed to traditional edibles (gummies, cookies etc.)?
AC: We were quick to identify …