The Alcohol-Free “Alcohol” Boom

Alcohol-free “alcohol” products are becoming more and more popular with an ever-increasing number of products hitting the shelves. But why is this becoming more of a focus for the alcohol industry and what can we expect to see in the future of this new growing niche?

Why Alcohol-Free?

Attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol are changing, particularly within the younger generations, with 25% of 16-24 year-olds drinking no alcohol at all and many others looking to cut down their overall alcohol intake.

This change in attitude to alcohol is a result of wide-ranging changes in culture and health literacy in the past decades, with a greater understanding among the population of the dangers and health impact of alcohol. This includes a better understanding of how alcohol affects behaviour, weight and organ health.

With less people drinking alcohol, it is only natural that the alcohol industry is pivoting to target the non-alcoholic market and maintain their overall share of the drinks industry.

The Alcohol-Free Market

The current alcohol-free market is a mixed bag of non-alcoholic versions of existing products and new ranges of bespoke alcohol alternatives. 

Non-alcoholic products from known brands have seen a lot of success in recent years, with non-alcoholic beer sales growing by 58% in the UK in 2020, and more and more brands launching their own alcohol-free alternatives. Big names in beer, like Budweiser, Guinness, Heineken and even smaller national brands like Tennent’s, with Tennent’s Zero, are all getting into the no-alcohol game.

More uniquely, there are other new brands and products out there that are attempting to emulate the experience of drinking alcohol, but with an entirely non-alcoholic taste. These include new drinks that fall loosely under the area of non-alcoholic spirits, like Seedlip, Pentire and Caleno.

Alcohol free wine is also seeing something of a resurgence, with more products moving away from the premium sparkling soft-drink approach, to emulate the taste of wine more closely. These products more closely match the experience of drinking wine, with brands like Ariel Vineyards producing both reds and whites.

The market is clearly in the middle of a boom period, so we can expect to see more new products hitting the shelves soon. 

The Future of Alcohol-Free

With a growing marketplace, there won’t be any shortage of non-alcoholic products in the near future. However, as more and more big name brands turn to the niche, we may begin to see some saturation and a need for new products to differentiate themselves more clearly.

We’re already seeing some evidence of this shift to stand out, with new non-alcoholic spirits like whisky, rum and vodka diversifying the current alcohol-free gin, beer and wine glut. 

With most bars and pubs still closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it can be difficult to estimate how big of an impact the non-alcoholic market will have on drinking habits and buying trends at drinking establishments. 

It’s currently very easy to find non-alcoholic drinks online and on supermarket shelves, but it remains to be seen if these products will enjoy as much success behind bars when they reopen.

If non-alcoholic drinks can find popular acceptance in bars, the sky really is the limit for the niche over the next few years.