Healthy lifetyle

Brewers under pressure as young snub alcohol

Non-alcoholic beers are growing in popularity

Brewers and pubs may need to review their product range amid more research showing younger people turning their backs on alcohol.

No alcohol is drunk in almost a third (29%) of all trips to the pub while 37% of restaurant meals are entirely alcohol-free, according to hospitality research company Kam.

The figures confirm several studies in recent years showing a fall in alcohol consumption across Britain through a combination of healthier lifestyle options and saving money.

Alcohol education charity Drink Aware says 17% of men and 22% of women do not drink with younger people – those aged 16 to 24 – making up the largest group (26%) of teetotallers while 15% of those aged 55 to 74 do not consume alcohol.

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Kam’s annual report, published today, found that 55% of British drinkers were actively trying to cut down – rising to 65% among drinkers in their twenties and late-teens.

While health concerns feature highly among the reasons, many said they wanted to save money, even though in real terms alcohol is 74% more affordable now than in 1987.

Katy Moses, managing director of KAM, said that despite a surge in alcohol consumption during the pandemic, the research demonstrated a general trend towards reduced intake.

Moses said: “The growth in popularity of the alcohol-free category isn’t primarily driven by those who never drink alcohol, but rather the huge number of Brits who simply want to moderate their intake and are looking for a great-tasting alternative.”

Consumption in the alcohol-free market is on an upward curve with web searches soaring by as much as a half and the worldwide market expected to grow from $923 million last year to $1.7 trillion by 2028.

Alcohol consumption has been in a steady decline since the mid-2000s with the fourth annual YouGov commissioned study by the Portman Group finding almost one in three (32%) UK drinkers now ‘semi-regularly’ consume low and no alcohol products compared to one in four (25%) in 2020.

A number of brewers, including Heineken, Budweiser, are looking to non-alcoholic beers to make up for lost sales.

With brewers improving the quality of non or low-alcoholic drinks, a fifth (20%) of those who have tried them say they are more likely to drink these products now compared to a year ago, almost double the number saying this in last year’s survey (11%).

Among those who have led a revolution is Heineken which in 2017 launched its 0.0 in Europe. The company reportedly spent 15 years developing the product.  Its efforts have paid off, with 0.0 (actually 0.03% alcohol) taking as much as a fifth of the growing US market alone in the early part of this year.

Brewdog has three alcohol-free options; Punk AF, Nanny State, and Raspberry Blitz. The company launched an alcohol-free pub.

Edinburgh-based brewer Days raised £1 million to expand its non-alcoholic products.

The alcohol-free market is also expanding in wines and spirits. Vodka, gin and tequila are now available in low alcohol forms. Tesco is among retailers which have set up alcohol-free sections.

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