In the last couple of years, the emergence of a new trend has been gaining steam in the beverage sector. Zero-alcohol drinks, which used to be extremely limited in popularity and reach, have increased in appeal, particularly during the pandemic as people began to take more notice of their lifestyle, eating and drinking habits and opted for healthier choices.
Millennials and Gen Zers especially are making more conscious choices when it comes to drinking alcohol, driving up demand and consumption of no- or low-alcoholic beverages. The normalisation of this trend has also led restaurants, bars and grocery establishments to make adjustments to their menus and on-shelf offerings.
According to a study by beverage alcohol research firm IWSR, the no/low-alcohol market was valued at $7.8 billion in 2018 and has jumped to approximately $10 billion in value across 10 key markets in 2022. In Australia, the IWSR forecasts non-alcoholic drink volume will grow by more than 15% by 2024.
So which products see the greatest traction with consumers? Beverages that offer a similar experience in taste and profile to their alcoholic counterparts. Also of note in the study was that consumption of no- or low-alcohol beverages applied to multiples types of consumers and drinking occasions. Many consumers were shown to be “blenders,” which, according to the parameters of the study, are consumers who switch between no/low and full-strength alcoholic beverages during the same occasion or outing.
This trend is being observed in restaurants and pubs, and in at-home consumption. With the category still in its infancy, it will be interesting to see how the market changes, including effects to alcohol service and alcohol server training as tastes and preferences adapt.