Supermarkets across the UK noticed a significant change in the adult drinks market in 2023 with an increase in the demand for low/no alcohol beer, spirits and sparkling wines according to Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
According to statistics provided in Dec 2023, all three supermarkets saw a significant rise in demand for low/no alcohol sales last year with Waitrose reporting a huge 28% in sales overall.
It seems that low/no alcohol beers have become the most popular form of alternative drink with sales at Sainsbury’s soaring by 25% and by more than 20% at Tesco.
The second highest increase came from low/no alcohol wines with Sainsbury’s reporting a 19% rise in sparkling wine sales and Tesco a 15% rise in alternative wines overall.
Although low/no alcohol spirits sales have increased the least, by 10% for both supermarkets, these do carry a slightly larger price tag being a more premium option so the increase is still a great sign for the industry as a whole.
The demand has risen so much in recent months that Waitrose are now introducing dedicated low/no alcohol drinks sections to some of their stores.
Pierpaolo Petrassi, Master of Wine, and Head of Beers, Wines and Spirits at Waitrose said: “In recent years there has been a rise in premium products which taste great next to their alcoholic counterparts, such as Heineken 0%, Warners 0% Gin and Guinness 0.0.
“Demand for low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks is growing at a phenomenal rate. It’s now the norm for customers to buy both.”
Image courtesy of Waitrose & Partners
The shift hasn’t just taken place in the supermarkets but in the events industry too as the official alcohol-free bar of Dry January, Torstig, opened their newest pop up venue in Hoxton last weekend.
Align Events founder Yasmin Spark, 35, Oxford, has seen an increase in demand for her mobile non-alcoholic cocktail services since launching in March 2022.
Spark said: “Our concept is simple. We create cocktails which have all the theatrics and taste profiles of a traditional cocktail minus the booze.
“2023 saw a surge in demand, we were even called over to New York for an event! It’s a testament to a shifting cultural mindset, acknowledging that everyone deserves to be part of the celebration.
“I think the rise in demand reflects a broader social change. Most of our clients are under 35 and looking for inclusive options that respect their choices, a gap that Align Events is proud to fill.
“I don’t believe this is a generational thing though. So many people are just not that into drinking or drink occasionally, regardless of age, it’s just they’ve never had the option to have a delicious alternative before.”
Image courtesy of Align Events
Celebrities have also joined the party with Kylie Minogue launching an alcohol-free sparkling rose in 2022 and Lewis Hamilton announcing the release of his premium alcohol-free tequila alternative ‘Almave’ in September.
The wide range of alcohol-free options now available to consumers has also been a pivotal change for many people who have previously had a dependency on alcohol and those who are looking to make a change in 2024.
Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of the leading UK alcohol charity Alcohol Change UK said: “Alcohol Change UK has developed significant expertise in the role of alcohol-free drinks over the past decade.
“We are generally positive about these drinks, and the evidence from our research is that the vast majority of people who consume alcohol heavily find them important or even essential to their process of cutting back and taking control of their alcohol consumption again.”
Social media has been a great way for alcohol-free drinks companies to promote and grow their brands and the online sober community are voicing their support for the increase in options available in venues and on the supermarket shelves.
Picture courtesy of Michael Singh (@sober_Singhy)
Sober advocate and Alcohol Change UK ambassador Michael Singh, 32, from north west London said: “I love having a choice of what drink I could treat myself to instead of being forced into limited options, and I’m always delighted when I see one of my favourite brands in stock.
“It shows there’s a care and understanding of people that have made the life choice to not drink alcohol. More options makes it more likely for people to choose a 0% option as it caters to a variety of taste buds.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependency visit www.alcoholchange.org
Featured image credit: Ross Helen