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Moderation is officially in. Nearly one in three UK drinkers semi-regularly choose low and no alcohol products, compared to one in four in 2020, new research has revealed.
A fifth of those who tried low and no alcohol said they are more likely to drink these products now compared to a year ago, according to a survey by YouGov commissioned by the Portman Group, which is almost double the amount in last year’s survey (11%).
Alcohol moderation is becoming increasingly popular alongside the growing quality of non-alcoholic beverages. Many moderators are choosing lower alcohol products due to health concerns (22%) or to socialise without drinking excessively (20%), but most respondents cited being able to drive home from social events (33%) as their top reason for drinking low or no alcohol beverages.
“There has been a big increase in drinking low and no during the pandemic, indicating that many UK drinkers have looked to moderate their alcohol consumption by swapping with non-alcoholic options,” said Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group. Just like with the growing flexitarian movement proving that meat eaters are often behind the rise in plant-based demand, alcohol drinkers are the main buyers of non-alcoholic products, according to the survey. More than half (58%) of non-drinkers had never even tried a low or no alcohol product.
Throughout the UK, Wales sees the highest number of semi-regular low and no alcohol consumers, according to YouGov, with a third (36%) of respondents saying they moderate their alcohol intake, up from less than a quarter in 2020. Elsewhere 32% of English and 29% of Scottish consumers said they drink low and no semi-regularly, up from 25% and 27% respectively.
Dry January has helped drive the uptake of zero alcohol beverages, but the sector is growing in its own right. Between 2020 and 2021, B2B online marketplace ShelfNow recorded a 450% increase in sales of low and no alcohol products thanks to the health and wellness trends. “Around the world, we have seen how the impact of Covid-19 has led to many adults prioritising healthier lifestyle habits, including drinking in moderation,” said Philip Linardos, co-founder and CEO of ShelfNow.
According to Lucky Saint, the official beer of Dry January, physical and mental health remains top of the agenda following the pandemic, directly correlating with sales of low and no-alcohol beer rising 58 per cent in the UK in 2020. The brand said one in eight UK adults plan to take part in Dry January this year, and with 70% of those who take part still drinking less six months later, stocking alcohol-free drinks can be a year-round sales booster for retailers.
Luke Boase, founder of Lucky Saint, told Speciality Food that stocking premium alcohol-free options is important for independent retailers year-round. “Taste trumps everything. If you’re doing Dry January, or if you’re just cutting down on alcohol in general, you still deserve a great tasting drink,” he said. “So when we look for an alcohol-free option, we’re going to go with the one which gives us the best experience. Retailers who focus on quality alcohol-free drinks are going to do better than those who see it as a gimmick for Dry Jan. Especially with the move towards a ‘sober curious’ lifestyle that so many people are making.”