Low-Alcohol drinks boom

Judith Evans reports in the Weekend Financial Times (subscription required) that drinks brands are looking “crack (the) code for growth in lockdown” by marketing “tempting wine, beer and spirit alternatives (to) defy sales gloom.”

Booch News reported back in 2018 on a front-page feature in the London Times that a third of under-25s drink no alcohol.

The Times

It seems the mainstream drinks industry is catching up with the trend (what took them so long, you might wonder?). They’ve begun to notice that consumers are ready to embrace wellness products which include vitamins, herb teas, and of course, kombucha.

The FT notes that alcohol alternatives have done quite nicely during the pandemic:

Drinks analytics group IWSR estimates global alcohol sales fell 9.4 per cent in 2020 to 24.8bn nine-litre cases, as bar and restaurant closures cut social drinking. Yet, sales of low and no-alcohol alternatives, excluding soft drinks, grew slightly by 0.95 per cent to 292.1m cases, according to IWSR data covering about 75 per cent of consumption.

This is true for a wide variety of drinks.

Beer

British drinkers are being challenged to participate in a One Year No Beer program that offers the promise of a ‘mindset shift’ to break down the habits associated with drinking.

Society has conditioned you that you need alcohol to be successful, to be cool, to be sexy, to have fun, to relax, the list goes on and on. How will you fare going up against years of social conditioning, second-hand peer pressure and self-doubt, all on your own?

So rather than just deleting alcohol from your life. We’ll help you break down and rebuild new habits and a new mindset that gives you complete control, that will last way past finishing your challenge.

Meeting this challenge is helped by the availability of brews such as Heineken 0.0, Clausthaler Dry-Hopped, and Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA that beer lovers rate highly. Savvy brands such as Real Kombucha and Left Field Kombucha are making draft kombucha available in bars and restaurants. Kombucha taprooms are opening across the United States.

Wine

There’s a growing range of alcohol-free wine available for purchase. In addition to familiar options like Martinelli’s effervescent cider there are cabernet and chardonnay varieties that have undergone dealcoholization and, it is claimed, kept their flavor.

The FT Notes

In the UK, low and no-alcohol wines, including sparkling varieties such as the Nosecco brand, also have a well-established market, with drinkers spending more than £100m on low and no-alcohol wines in the year to November 2020, according to Kantar.

Spirits

As much as beer and wine are attempting to appeal to those of us who wish to avoid alcohol, and have not yet perhaps discovered ‘booch, the spirits makers are the ones who are really innovating.

Gordon’s 0.0% is an alcohol free version of their famous gin, and promises the same great taste – with none of the alcohol. Anita Robinson, Marketing Director at Diageo states:

Gordon’s 0.0% is created by distilling the same botanicals used in Gordon’s London Dry Gin. These botanicals are individually immersed in water, heated and then distilled before being expertly blended together to capture the essence of Gordon’s in a delicious alcohol-free alternative.

This special distillation process is a closely guarded secret, known only to a handful of people and we are incredibly proud to be bringing gin drinkers that juniper led taste they’re expecting from Gordon’s when they choose not to drink alcohol.

Multinational Diageo has a majority stake in upmarket gin alternative Seedlip that sits alongside other brands, including Ceder from South Aftrica, and CeroCero.

Show me the money

The FT article concludes by noting

It is a potentially profitable direction, since alcohol-free drinks do not incur excise duty — a tax that in the UK amounts to £28.74 per litre of pure alcohol. For example, incurring an £11.50 fee for a litre of 40 per cent ABV vodka. Retail prices for recent alcohol-free launches have been set at or just below alcoholic equivalents despite the tax difference.

Kombucha brands can only benefit from this growing trend for alternatives to intoxicating beer, wine, and spirits. The big brands with their ad budgets and robust distribution channels are softening up the market for the growing acceptance of kombucha.

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