The Strategist

World's biggest brewers bet on non-alcoholic beverages

07/21/2021 - 10:10

The world's biggest brewers Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken have bet on non-alcoholic beverages to restore sales after the pandemic. According to Reuters, the makers plan to support the growing trend towards healthier lifestyles with a new generation of "zero-alcohol" beers.

According to Euromonitor International, global non-alcoholic beer sales fell 4.6 per cent ($11.6 billion) in 2020 due to the lockdown, after an average annual growth rate of nine per cent from 2016 to 2019. Companies believe that with the removal of coronavirus restrictions, they have more opportunities to get drinkers interested in non-alcoholic versions of top-selling brands, which will be crucial to boosting sales.

According to Borja Manso-Salinas, vice-president of marketing for Heineken in the US, consumers are deterred from buying non-alcoholic beers due to the fear that they don't taste as good as conventional ones. However, at a tasting where alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of Heineken were offered, even the drink's most loyal fans didn't notice the difference. The fact is that many brands have changed the brewing technology. In the past, many 'zero' beers were created by evaporating the alcohol, but now brewers use vacuum chambers to separate the alcohol at lower temperatures without compromising the taste of the beverage.

Research company InsightSLICE notes that Europe accounts for almost three-quarters of global consumption of non-alcoholic beer - in Spain, for example, it accounts for 13 percent of all beer sales. In the US, there are far fewer fans of the alcohol-free beverage - only 0.5 per cent of consumers would prefer it to classic beer.

However, IWSR analysts predict that by 2025, consumption of non-alcoholic products in the US will triple, overtaking global consumption by almost 60 percent. At the same time, sales of conventional beer are expected to fall by 18 per cent over the same period.