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Sales of Non-Alcoholic Beer Going Up In Health Conscious Britain

Posted May 13 2009 10:48pm

Isn’t it funny how just as people are tightening their grip on their wallets when it comes to shelling out for pricey boozy beer, its little - and up until now hugely unpopular cousin - the non-alcholic beer - seems to be stealing the show.

As profits drop for the hard stuff, the market seems to be soaring for the tee-totaller’s tipple. While sales of low and non-alcohol bitter and larger zoomed up 10 per cent last year, regular beer sales fell by per cent. Euromonitor also predict the success of the virtuous stuff will keep on rising an additional 23 per cent over the next four years. The market research group suggested brewers may be tempted to market low-alcohol beers as the main event rather than the previous side show they are used to.

You would not be alone if you admitted rarely or even never having tasted non-alcoholic beer. Time was we only drank to get drunk - perhaps we’re ready to quaff beer with the best of them - really just enjoy it for its taste and not its heady after effects (that excludes you, Scally Britain).

Guiness led the way with the launch of Kaliber back in 1983 - a nil alcohol lager that featured teetotaller Billy Connolly in its adverts. It obviously pathed the way for other brewers to follow suit with Beck’s Blue, Carlsberg Low Alcohol and Stella Artois NA. Kaliber, which is now made by Diageo, seems to have cornered the small market as the best seller, however Carling’s C2 is not doing bad at all, making up three-quarters of sales of low alcohol beers.

OK, so low and zero alcohol beers are never going to be more popular than the strong stuff - they still only take up 3 per cent of beer sales in a mraket worth £2 billion. However, while non-alcholic products were worth £69 million in 2007-08, sales could soar to £85 - that’s 5 per cent of the total beer market by 2013, according to Euromonitor.

So, what is the reason for this sudden surge in bevy-free bevy? Alcohol analyst Spiros Malamdrakis says it’s down to a desire to shrug off the image of binge drinking culture and embrace a more healthier lifestyle. “Sometimes people are forced to drink a low-alcohol drink because they drive or because of this health consciousness they want some-thing lighter without having the negative effects of alcohol,” he said.

Now that there is a bit more out there for the ‘health conscious’, beer connoisseurs can enjoy a more colourful choice of the low-alcohol varieties. While supermarkets limit thier stock of the soft stuff to three or four ranges, there is more out there for this who look, including the Portuguese Sagres and Belgium’s Jupiler pilsener.

Entrepreneurs Christine Humphreys and her husband John Risby took a risky leap to establish an online Alcohol Free Shop - but business is booming for them with a whopping 71 per cent sales increase ine one year alone - and they have even made themselves a high street regular in Manchester. Ms Humphreys, who stocks 0.5 per cent German wheat beers Schneider Weisse and Erdinger, is convinced that many of the beers they stock taste just as nice as their boozey counterparts.
“People buy for different reasons,” she said.

“Some are middle-aged men who have been to the doctor and been put on tablets or need to stay off alcohol for an operation. Then we have people who are giving up because they have heard about the cancer-causing properties of alcohol and we have got other people who have made a lifestyle decision,”
she added

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