Blitz on booze

Drinkers plan to celebrate alcohol-free Christmas

Nix West alcohol free beer

Alcohol free drinks are on the rise

Drinkers are preparing a sober Christmas and New Year by ditching traditional boozy sessions in favour of no and low alcohol drinks.

New data shows that sales in the no and low alcohol category have surged by 48% in the last 12 months to more than £60 million a year.

Growth for completely alcohol-free options has been even higher at nearly 80%, and alcohol-free ‘mocktails’ or ‘virgin cocktails’ have been a particularly thriving segment.

One in three (32%) adults has tried a no or low alcohol beer, wine or spirit in the last six months. That equates to some 15.5 million consumers, with another 8.9 million saying they find the category appealing.

The findings by data and research consultancy CGA reveals that only 9% of those who drink no and low options classify themselves as teetotal. This suggests that these drinks are an alternative for people who want to moderate their intake, rather than being a permanent substitute.

A growing interest in health is one of the chief reasons why people steer clear of alcoholic drinks on occasions, and sizeable numbers say they experiment with no and low choices to see what they taste like.

More than four million people signed up to the Dry January campaign in 2019, and that number is expected to rise in 2020, pushing no and low alcohol drinks firmly into the mainstream.

Daily Business has learned that a low or no alcohol category is being considered for next year’s Scottish Beer Awards to recognise the trend, although there are few being produced in Scotland. It is understood that St Andrews-based Eden Mill is the latest to be looking to introduce a low alcohol brand, Eden Nil, joining the likes of West Brewery’s Nix and BrewDog’s Nanny State and Punk AF.

CGA’s senior consumer research manager Charlie Mitchell said: “Our report shows there is huge potential for operators and suppliers to capitalise on the growing number of moderators.

“With even more people likely to cut back on booze after the Christmas excesses, producers, operators and suppliers are queuing up to jump on the opportunity with an ever-increasing range of no and low alcohol alternatives.

“With many consumers eager to trial them out of curiosity, along with the evident health drivers associated, the challenge will be to build loyalty and repeat trial in a market where it is increasingly hard to stand out.”

CGA’s report Understanding Moderation in the On-Trade is based on its exclusive BrandTrack survey of the habits and views of 5,000 British adults.

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