Supporting the exciting rise of the low and no alcohol category

27/06/2019

On 26 June 2019, the Portman Group were pleased to attend an event celebrating and showcasing an array of low and no alcohol beers at the House of Commons, hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group and the ‘mindful drinking movement’ Club Soda.

The event was addressed by Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins MP who welcomed the exciting rise of the low and no alcohol category, which is giving more choice to UK drinkers of lower strength alternatives.

What do consumers think of low and no products?

Consumer enthusiasm for low/no products can be seen in record sales, with over £100 million worth of sales in UK shops in 2018-19.

Spending on low/no alcohol beer alone has almost doubled over the last three years to £57 million, equating to 12.5 million pints.[i]

Portman Group polling published earlier this year shows that 24% of UK drinkers have either already switched to no/low alternatives or would consider doing so in the next six months.

Younger drinkers are leading the way, with almost one in ten 18-24 year olds already switching to low/no alternatives, with one in five considering switching in the next six months.

Drinkers are switching for various reasons, from avoiding a hangover and being able to drive home after going out, to lowering their risk of liver disease.

The growth in the low and no category reflects broader fall in UK alcohol consumption, which has declined by 15% since 2004.

The way forward – how can we foster greater innovation?

The Portman Group is keen to ensure the future growth of the low/no category and are concerned it risks being undermined by outdated and confusing product descriptors which are haphazardly applied across the sector.

We are calling for the current labelling system to be updated to give consumers greater clarity and consistency around what they are buying.

Specifically:

  • No alcohol/alcohol free: Raising the ‘alcohol free’ threshold from 0.05% ABV to 0.5% ABV to bring the UK in line with other European countries.
  • Low alcohol: Introducing a minimum strength of above 0.5% ABV to the category of ‘low alcohol’, to go up to and include 1.2% ABV.
  • Removing the term ‘de-alcoholised’, as consumers find this confusing. 

What are Portman Group members doing to make low and no alcohol products more accessible?

  • Bacardi has launched an alcohol-free sparkling drink under its popular Martini brand – ‘Martini 0.0% Dolce’.

  • Carlsberg aim to offer an alcohol-free alternative wherever its alcoholic options are sold by 2022.

  • Diageo has invested in non-alcoholic drinks company Seedlip and launched an ultra-low Gordon’s Gin & Tonic flavoured drink in the UK.

  • Heineken has partnered with Club Soda to support mindful drinking festivals and plan to roll out Heineken ® 0.0 draught beer to 1,500 pubs through its Blade countertop draught system.

  • Molson Coors already offer UK consumers a range of no/low products and aims to offer these products in all countries in which it has a presence by 2025.

  • Pernod Ricard has launched non-alcoholic premium drink Ceder’s in the UK, the company’s first non-alcoholic alternative to gin.

UK adults can also find further suggestions of the best low and no alcohol drinks and the venues serving them using the Club Soda Guide.