Canadian pot producers may scale back in Europe: industry report

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(Reuters) - Canadian cannabis producers are likely to scale back their investments in Europe as they come under pressure to cut costs and deliver profit, two industry consultants said in a report released on Tuesday.

Depending on the pace of legalization, the market for European cannabis could grow at a compound annual rate of 52% for the next five years, hitting $3.1 billion in sales by 2025, research firm Brightfield Group and consultancy Hanway Associates said.

They, however, projected the current market at just a tenth of that value and said some Canadian companies may choose to follow two of the sector’s big players - Aurora Cannabis Inc and Canopy Growth Corp - in trimming spending outside North America.

“Though they remain a tremendous force in Europe, forward momentum among (Canadian) liquidity providers will slow in the future, especially in newer or smaller markets,” the consultants said, adding this would give more room for European players.

Cannabis investment in North America has surged in the past three years as Canada became the first major country to legalize the drug for recreational use, giving its firms a head start at a time when Europe and U.S. Federal rules remain more restrictive.

Aurora, Aphria and Tilray already have production or distribution networks in countries like Germany and Denmark, and may not need additional investment, the report said.

When asked if Aurora was cutting investments in Europe, the company’s managing director for the UK & Ireland, Don Perrott, said, “We have not changed our view that this market represents a significant opportunity, despite slower-than-expected growth to date across many EU member states.”

“Europe remains a core part of Aurora’s growth strategy and we are constantly evaluating opportunities to expand our business in the region,” Perrott said.

Aphria’s chief strategy officer, Denise Faltischek, echoed a similar view, saying the company believes that the EU continues to hold “many exciting growth opportunities”.

Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Sriraj Kalluvila