Low ABV brewery Big Drop secures high-end partnerships as interest grows in non-alcoholic drinks

Low alcohol-brewery Big Drop has announced a string of new partnerships with high-end retailers and restaurants as consumer interest in the non-alcoholic category continues to ferment.

(Photo: Big Drop)

Recent listings include in-store and in the restaurant at Fortnum & Mason, London pub group Barworks and Michelin-awarded restaurant firm Hakkasan.

The news comes after some three million people in the UK were predicted to take part in Dry January, an annual government-backed campaign which sees consumers avoid alcohol for the first month of the year in a bid to improve their overall health.

While experts are divided on the health benefits of a teetotal month, there has been a rising interest in the low alcohol category in both the on and off-trade.

“There’s nothing to suggest that the interest in lower alcohol drinks, particularly beer and spirits, is restricted to one month,” said Big Drop founder Robert Fink.

“We also saw an increase in trial of our beers as part of the Tryanuary initiative, which encourages people to try different drinks rather than giving up altogether, and many said that they will continue to include Big Drop beer in their drinking repertoire. And it’s encouraging to see that so many retailers are listening to customers and stocking a wider range of low and no alcohol beers to cater for their preferences.”

Big Drop, based in Maidenhead, UK, launched in 2016 to cater for the rising number of non-drinkers as alcohol consumption has continued to drop worldwide.

The rate of decline in global alcohol consumption is accelerating, according to a 2017 report from market researcher IWSR, with the global market for alcoholic drinks shrinking by 1.3% in 2016, compared with an average rate of 0.3% in the previous five years.

Drinks giant Diaego stepped up its investment in the market in 2016, when it took a minority stake in non-alcoholic spirits brand Seedlip.

In June 2017 Diageo announced it was establishing a new business development programme for non-alcoholic drinks, that will see it invest around £10,000 each ($12,000) in four non-alcoholic companies.

Tesco launched a a new low-alcohol wine range to keep up with the public’s taste for lighter drinks in November, with the retailer claiming that its low alcohol range of could compete with their standard range “without any compromise on taste.”

The range comprises of five bottles — including still and sparkling versions of Sauvignon Blanc and Garnacha-rosé, and a Cabernet Tempranillo — and are made using a spinning cone technique that gently removes the alcohol without sacrificing the aroma, quality and flavour profile of the wine.

Likewise, in December 2016 , Lidl unveiled a low-alcohol wine range with its New Year Wine Cellar selection, of which five of the 14 wines released have an alcohol content of less than 12%.

Aldi launched its own Featherweight collection, with four new wines with alcohol content of 5.5%, in August 2017.

Brewers large and small are also bolstering their own low ABV offerings. Last month, Guinness introduced its first new non-alcoholic beer since 2014 — Open Gate Pure Brew — a “fully brewed and fully fermented non-alcoholic lager that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our other great beers.”

“Retailers have been understandably nervous about introducing one lower strength beer, let alone a range” Fink said, “but they are now recognising their importance to their customer base and, therefore, their business. In the past, it was too easy to wait for others to test the market for lower strength beers but when pub groups such as Barworks, restaurants like Hakkasan and prestigious stores like Fortnum & Mason start to take notice, we know that consumer opinion is finally being heard.”

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