While the alcohol and alcoholic beer industries are shrinking in popularity, the UK’s non-alcoholic beverage industry just keeps growing! In fact, in 2019, the UK’s nonalcoholic beer sales grew by 58%.
It’s not hard to see why the UK likes alcohol-free drinks, with so much home-grown non-alcoholic tastiness like Seedlip spirits, popular 0.0% options from Guinness and Heineken, and delicious craft alcohol-free beers from new local brewers and purveyors making it possible for everyone to enjoy low-alcohol.
But why are non-alcoholic drinks so popular? Who is drinking them? And where is the market heading? In this article, we’ll take a look at what we think is making non-alcoholic drinks so popular.
One of the big reasons why so many people drink non-alcoholic drinks, especially these days, is for health reasons. Stuck at home during the lock downs, many people reported drinking more than they usually would. This has led people to begin exploring low alcohol beverages, especially no-alcohol ones.
Non-alcoholic drinks are also popular among people who want to keep fit with non-alcoholic drinks also help to maintain a healthy weight. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, so removing the alcohol cuts a lot off a drink’s calorie count.
Did you know alcoholic drinks inhibit the production of your mitochondria’s adenosine triphosphate (ATP)? With mitochondria responsible for producing energy, alcohol decreases your body’s ability to produce energy. If you’re an avid gym-goer, with only 0.5% ABV, the alcohol found in non-alcoholic beverages is processed long before the next morning. So, the non-alcoholic beer leaves your body fully hydrated, energized, and ready to go!
There are also non-alcoholic beers with further health benefits. For example, the brewer MEDA, produces alcohol-free CBD nootropic drinks with names like ‘Calm’, which contains ashwagandha and theanine. They also make ‘Recover’, with turmeric and ginger, and ‘Defence’, fortified with the immune-boosting echinacea and vitamin C.
The rise of alcohol-free challenges
Chances are you’ve seen an ad or two for Sober October lately or donated to your friends’ Dry January challenges on social media. Maybe you’ve even completed such a challenge yourself. More and more monthly alcohol-free campaigns are out there for more and more charities, and it seems like everyone’s participating in them!
There’s greater choice
Gone are the days of taste-challenged drinks like Kaliber, which seemed to have both the alcohol and flavour boiled off during brewing! These days, there are loads of delicious non-alcoholic drink options. Whether you’re out for a meal, at your local pub, or nipping to the shop or off-licence, plenty of different non-alcoholic drinks are everywhere, just waiting to be tried.
Young people prefer non-alcoholic drinks
As the low-alcohol market keeps growing and sales of drinks like lager keep dropping every year, brewers and manufacturers are spotting an equally big trend - most of their consumers are on the younger side! With 1 in 4 young people teetotal, young adults are ageing into a world of delicious alcohol-free options that suit their lifestyle.
The jury’s out on quite why so many young people prefer low-alcohol and alcohol-free options. Some people think it’s because young people primarily socialise online, while others say it results from good parenting. Whatever the reason, it looks like the trend is here to stay.
They taste good
According to a Distil Ventures study, with the UK the non-alcoholic drinks’ “most mature” market, there is now a range of truly tasty non-alcoholic drinks on the market. These aren’t just popular brewers’ knock-offs of popular alcoholic drinks, either. Alcohol-free breweries increasingly produce alcohol-free drinks.
You know what’s in them
Have you ever had an alcoholic drink and been surprised to discover its ingredients? Can you name everything that goes into whisky, rum, or champagne, for example? After all, besides allergen information, alcoholic drink manufacturers are not obliged to list an alcoholic drink’s information on the label. This is due to the legacy of laws that once restricted alcohol in the UK.
But with non-alcoholic drinks, you always get a full ingredient list, as well as the nutrition information. You know how many calories are in an alcohol-free drink, whether it contains gluten, how much sugar is in it, whether it’s vegan, and what has been used to dye or flavour it if anything.
More people can drink them
As the low-alcohol market expands globally, nearly a third of all alcohol-free beer is being sold in the Arabic world! This doesn’t mean alcohol-free is universally considered Halal, though the Taybeh Brewing Company has launched a Halal alcohol-free beer. Moussy has been the leading alcohol free beer in Saudi Arabia for many years.
The increase in brewing low-alcohol and alcohol-free beers has also led to a growing variety of gluten-free options. This means people with coeliac disease, gluten sensitivity, or other similar conditions can get in on the world of alcohol-free beers, too!
Also, people who have suffered from alcohol addiction in the past sometimes find that they can drink non-alcoholic beverages without a problem.
Of course, the sensory cues of certain non-alcoholic drinks can tempt some people who previously suffered from a drinking problem into craving alcohol again, and you should always consult your support or healthcare professional beforehand. But with so many new alcohol-free drinks on the market, there are more options.
So, where is the industry going?
With the alcohol-free industry getting more and more popular every year, it seems that the two main low-alcohol niches at the moment are catering to a younger demographic and people who want to keep fit. However, there is also a big demand for producing alcohol-free versions of alcoholic drinks that are already well-loved.
If the alcohol-free industry meets these demands, the industry will become even more popular throughout the world!
At NoLo Beverage, we are on a mission to review as many non-alcoholic drinks - beers, spirits and wines - as possible. The non-alcoholic industry is continuing to grow, so why not get ahead of the game and embrace the exciting changes ahead!