Cannabis producer Hexo unveils new 'centre of excellence' and beverage plant in Belleville

Truss beverages

An Ottawa-based pot producer has launched what it calls a “centre of excellence” in Belleville, where it will bottle cannabis-infused drinks it’s producing in a joint venture with brewing giant Molson Coors.

Hexo unveiled the new facility in a video released on Thursday. The two-and-half-minute promo says the new building has been “engineered to manufacture advanced cannabis products” ​– including beverages that contain a low to medium dose of CBD or THC, the active ingredient in cannabis that helps produce a high.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the year with our shareholders by virtually showcasing our manufacturing Centre of Excellence in Belleville,” Hexo CEO and co-founder Sebastien St-Louis said in a statement. 

“The operational capabilities in Belleville have been instrumental in helping us reach the number one position in Canada in both the hash and beverage categories. We are confident that Belleville’s capacity, scalability and innovation capabilities will continue driving sales and growth across categories.”

The drinks are being produced by Truss Beverage Co., a corporate collaboration between Hexo and Molson Coors. In August, the two companies announced five brands in a bid to capture market share in the rapidly emerging cannabis drink space.

Wellness products

The new brands include Little Victory naturally-flavoured sparkling beverages and House of Terpenes sparkling tonics with botanically-sourced terpenes – aromatic oils that flavour cannabis.

Veryvell, an existing Truss brand that currently offers cannabis extract drops, will centre around cannabidiol products and wellness, while XMG and Mollo will focus on drinks that are geared toward special occasions.

“From a consumer perspective, we've only seen interest continue to grow in the sector and we think the timing is perfect as we're coming to market and beverages,” Scott Cooper, Truss's president and chief executive, said in an interview with the Canadian Press this summer.

The unveiling of the new facility comes near the end of a challenging 2020 for Hexo.

The firm booked a net loss of $546.5 million for the fiscal year ending July 31, up from a loss of $69.6 million a year earlier.

While the company earned record net revenues of $27.1 million in the fourth quarter and its overall 2020 revenues jumped 70 per cent year-over-year to $80.6 million, it continued to accrue significant losses as it scales up production. 

Hexo, which is due to report its first-quarter earnings for fiscal 2021 on Monday, was in danger of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange after its shares plummeted to just 59 cents in late October. 

In response, the company launched a plan to consolidate its shares in an effort to remain compliant with the US$1 minimum share price continued listing standard of the U.S. Exchange.

Hexo was barely in compliance on Thursday afternoon, when its shares were trading for exactly $1.

– With files from the Canadian Press