Sales of low-alcohol and no-alcohol beers have almost doubled in five years as non-alcoholic versions of global brands such as Heineken and Budweiser helped convert drinkers from carbonated soft drinks.
Drinkers in the UK bought £363 million ($454 million) of alcohol-free/low-alcohol brews in 2021, up from £192 million ($240 million) in 2016, according to research group IWSR.
Bernstein analyst, Trevor Stirling, said the UK had become “one of the hotspots” for growth in low-alcohol and no-alcohol brewing.
“It’s an adult soft drink rather than a substitute for alcohol . . . the acceptance of the products is probably higher than I was expecting,” Stirling said to the Financial Times.
He claimed UK innovations such as BrewDog’s Nanny State, launched in 2011, and Adnams’ Ghost Ship helped the UK market gain a head start.
“Until five years ago no one was investing seriously in it [low and no alcohol], we learned that it is better to have extensions of mainstream brands as opposed to developing new brands,” Anheuser-Busch InBev chief financial officer Fernando Tennenbaum said.
He said InBev recorded double-digit annual growth in low-alcohol and no-alcohol beers, with softer versions of popular beer brands including Budweiser, Corona, Becks and Leffe.
Despite the growth, the brewery giant said it is ‘off track’ on reaching its goal of making 20% of its beer volume non-alcoholic and low-alcohol by 2025.
The brewer’s goals were made to support the World Health Organisation (WHO) in reaching its target to cut harmful drinking – alcoholic beverage consumption that causes car accidents, diseases and birth defects – by 10% in every country by 2025.