Alcohol-free: the new Alcohol?


With the over-indulgence of Christmas over and that bleary eyed New Year’s day hangover now a thing of the past, we are now firmly into January. More famously known as the month of healthy food, fitness and alcohol abstinence. It’s commonly become quite a trend to lay off the booze – but this goes far beyond ‘Dry January’.

Research shows a greater proportion of 16 to 24 year olds are staying sober than ever before, the proportion of non-drinkers increased from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015 and it is forever rising.

In recent years, people are becoming more and more mindful and health conscious, and the demand for viable and great tasting alternatives to alcohol has increased when they are looking to stay sharp and moderate their drinking.  Not only this, some people just choose not to drink alcohol entirely. It is therefore imperative to offer consumer choice, not only to support responsible drinking but to respect everyone’s lifestyle choices.

Non-drinkers still go out, and are still thirsty; Cue alcohol free alternatives!

A buzz around new styles and flavours of beer has no doubt helped encourage trial for no/low alcohol options and new variants have helped push this. Pioneering brands include Beck’s Blue alcohol-free beer, Heineken 0.0 and Brewdog’s Nanny State. People who choose not to drink have increasing numbers of credible options to choose from a repertoire of drinks, rather than just one offs.

Alternatives to spirits such as no alcohol distilled spirit company Seedlip have boomed in popularity too, along with the rise in retailers own zero brand wines, with lighter and fruitier taste profiles.

Although the low and no-alcohol segment is seeing some growth, there are challenges that the industry needs to be mindful of. Scepticism about a lack of taste and flavour remains a significant barrier to trial. Creative approaches to blending and flavouring no and low-alcohol options can help address this challenge, but also giving them a try first hand is always beneficial.

The key in developing the sector will be more brand competition which will drive variety, innovation and quality even further.