The Rise of Non-Alcoholic Beer
A few years ago there was nothing in the alcohol free aisle but shloer. Nowadays, there's ales, IPAs, lagers and stouts. But why this new interest?
The alcohol-free section in your local supermarket used to consist of some Becks Blue and Shloer. Now, there’s almost as much range as there is with the real thing. What’s more, alcohol free beer is being advertised on bus stops; its being promoted in bars (read about my experience in Brewdog here); and it’s quickly losing its social stigma. Whilst dry January must be a factor, there must be more significant and long-lasting changes that are driving this seismic market shift.
Across the world, average alcohol consumption is falling, as this study shows. People are drinking less than they have done for years; in 2005 18% of UK 16-25 year olds said they’d never touched a drop. By 2015, this had risen to 29%, and we can assume it’s risen more still since.
In 2018, Britons spent £43m on no and low alcohol beers, an increase of 28% than the year previous. This is inspiring more and more brands to entered the sector, and in turn making it more lucrative still; 2017 was the year that Heineken and Budweiser, two of the largest beer brands, released their own no/low alcohol beverages, and since then a plethora of others have followed suit.
The reason for this is likely to do with increased concern for personal health. In our current era of wellness, intensive diets and gym cultures, the paunched figure of the beer drinker seems quite old hat. The government’s campaigning against smoking and drinking must finally have worn us down, with many compelled by surprising statistics about alcohol’s high calorific content and its links to a whole range of diseases and cancers.
But a more surprising reason for the increased presence of non-alcoholic beers, and its worldwide skyrocketing valuation, is its popularity in countries where alcohol is either banned, highly taboo or against religious practices. According to the Economist the middle east accounts for almost a third of sales of non-alcoholic beer. In 2012, Iranians drank nearly four times as much of it as they did in 2007! Read the Economist article here.
The Economist argues that beer is becoming popular in these countries because it is an aspirational consumer item. In fact they suggest that, “As a statement of a globalised lifestyle beer, even if non-alcoholic, may be more potent than Coca-Cola.”
With non alcoholic beer rising in popularity both at home and abroad, alcoholic drink brands have found a rising market amid their slowly decaying industry. And with increased popularity, comes increased focus: companies are working to make their non-alcoholic offerings as tasty as possible, which can only be good for consumers looking to boost their health.