Blair Veenema

Vice President, Strategic Alliances

Briefly, tell us about your role and what it, and your team, represents for Constellation Brands?
As Vice President, Strategic Alliances, I work to ensure we are providing strategic support to Canopy Growth, a world-leading diversified cannabis company. This includes project-managing collaborative work between our two companies – spanning Finance, Operations and Commercial initiatives – as well as supporting Canopy’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and new market development initiatives.

Since joining Constellation Brands, you’ve held roles in both the beverage alcohol and cannabis spaces. What’s your take on the cannabis industry today and in the future?
While at Constellation, I’ve had the opportunity to support our M&A initiatives across the beer, wine, and spirits categories, as well as to run Constellation Ventures, our in-house Venture Capital group. In my current role I’m focused on managing our relationship with Canopy Growth. I’ve had a chance to work closely with Canopy and develop a good understanding of the similarities and differences between the cannabis and beverage alcohol industries.

Given its long operating history, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the cannabis industry is already a large and growing market in the U.S. and globally. However, until recently it has operated only in illicit markets, and therefore the legal cannabis market is still really only in the early stages of its development. For example, in the U.S. we haven’t yet seen any national-scale brands built in the cannabis industry like we have in beverage alcohol, due in large part to the differences in state legality. Over time however, my expectation is that we will begin to see the beverage alcohol and cannabis industries begin to look more alike as the legal cannabis market continues to mature.

How big is the cannabis opportunity for the industry, and for Constellation Brands?
It’s probably not a stretch to say that legalization of global cannabis markets could be the most exciting growth opportunity that we will see in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry this century. The U.S. market alone is estimated to already represent a $50B opportunity, and it is expected that the global cannabis opportunity could eventually be greater than $200B…so pretty big!

While cannabis sales are currently skewed towards raw flower, it is expected that over time a majority of all cannabis sales will be through more value-added formats such as vape, edibles, and beverages, each displaying similar characteristics to branded consumer packaged goods like beverage alcohol. As such, given our prowess in developing market leading brands that resonate with today’s consumer, the cannabis industry represents a significant opportunity for Constellation Brands to leverage what has made us a market leader in beverage alcohol.

What excites you about showing up to work at Constellation every day?
Constellation is a company that is not afraid to lead the evolution of our industry, both in beverage alcohol and cannabis. It’s incredibly energizing to go to work each day knowing that we as a company are helping to create the brands consumers will love and consume for years to come.