Demand for non-alcoholic drinks is not a ‘fad’

Demand for non-alcoholic drinks is not a ‘fad’

Demands from consumers for more choice of innovative non-alcoholic options show no sign of slowing down.   

A major report, along with major hospitality sector leaders, have claimed that the growth is only set to continue, with the UK leading the charge globally. 

The results of recently published research by Distill Ventures called  ‘Non-Alcoholic Drinks: A Growth Story’ showed that 61% of consumers said they want better choice when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks. 

And it is not just people being teetotal, as in the UK, 59% of people are ordering non-alcoholic drinks on nights out when they are also drinking alcohol, compared with only 29% who are drinking solely alcoholic drinks, the report said.

In the last 12 months, there have been 271 ‘premium soft drink’ launches in the UK. As of October 2018, there were 42 non-alc spirits in the UK market, up from just four in April.

Shilen Patel, co-founder and non-alc lead at Distill Ventures, said that this was an “emerging space” with a commercial opportunity for the on-trade.

“It is not a fad and we are of the opinion it is here to stay,” said Patel. 

“There is enough of the groundswell and momentum and enough evidence that consumers are looking to have that choice when they want it. ”

He said it was interesting that many old traditional drinks were coming back into the market such as shrubs, which are drinking vinegars, as well as Kombucha and Kefir.

UK 'the leading force' 

“Our industry is normally led by the US but London and the UK have been the leading force in this space,” he said.  

“I think this is partly because we have an incredibly vibrant food and drink entrepreneurial scene in this country."

This view was backed by speakers at a conference session at European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo last month. 

“There is more demand, especially at lunchtime, for a different offering of non-alcoholic and soft drinks,” said Mark Hastings, director of restaurants’ at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. “The challenge is to create products that are enticing, will excite and get these people moved over from those default drinks."  

Mark Fenton, head of brand at Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz, said that the increasing knowledge of the consumer was putting some pressure on operators to provide better non-alcoholic options.  

“The needs of the customer is so much greater and the knowledge of the customer is so much greater – generally through the social channels more than anything,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mark Low, creative lead at Mr Lyan Studio said that he had seen a greater demand for non-alcoholic options within restaurants and bars. He said it was about “giving the same experience” and being “inclusive”.

Low said that the developments in non-alcoholic drinks such as bitters and aperatifs, and products such as Æcorn Aperitifs and Everleaf,  meant that even more complicated drinks could now be alcohol-free.

Consumer demands

Meanwhile, non-alcoholic suppliers such as Seedlip, who were speaking at the recent 2019 UK Soft Drinks Conference run by Zenith, said that consumers were continuing to drive this.

Claire Warner, head of new brands at Seedlip and managing director of Æcorn Aperitifs, said:  “There have been some huge seismic shifts in society and culture and essentially we are healthier or at least we should be healthier. We have access to more information to help us be healthier.”

Warner added that the consumer had also become very demanding and needed “beautiful” non-alcoholic options.   

“The days have gone where we are judging how great a drink is purely by whether it contains alcohol or not,” she said.

Craig Hutchinson, founder and chief executive of Ceder’s, the non-alcoholic gin brand, said that operators were missing out by not responding to the increasing numbers of people who are not drinking.  

“If this is not a wakeup call to the alcohol industry I don’t know what is,” he said.

“If you think the last 10 years have been disruptive it is nothing compared to what we are going to see.”

While, Johanne Le Roux, founder of ready-to-drink non-alcoholic gin and tonic range Duchess, said: “We are seeing a lot of alcoholic brands making non-alcoholic versions. They are leveraging their current brands but in the long run I feel the disruption is going to come from completely new brands which are born alcohol-free.”  





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