Low alcohol brewery Big Drop secures £500k investment, moves production to Europe

British low alcohol brewery, Big Drop, is moving part of its production process to mainland Europe after securing £500,000 from private investors.

Rob Fink, the company’s co-founder, said the windfall will “unlock more resources, production efficiencies and sales potential both in the UK and globally.”

Big Drop, which Fink launched with childhood friend James Kindred in 2016, capitalises on the gradual decline in alcohol consumption in the UK and the growing social acceptability around zero ABV beer, wine and spirits. This year the company’s sales grew by 775% thanks to new listings in both the on and off-trade.

Having already secured partnerships with high end retailers and restaurants such as Fortnum & Mason and Asian dining group Hakkasan at the start of 2018, Fink’s beers became available to a wider audience in the UK in August when he struck a deal with pub company Mitchells & Butlers. Big Drop landed a listing with Tesco stores nationwide the following month.

Beyond the UK, Big Drop’s products are available in Albert Heijn in The Netherlands, Systembolaget in Sweden and Alko in Finland.

The new investment will allow Big Drop to increase its marketing and production budgets, with plans to move some of its brewing to mainland Europe and Canada. The move will address the “dual challenges of Brexit and satisfying increased demand,” while also giving the company better access to the north American market.

Once a maligned category in the drinks sector, low ABV alternatives to beer, wine and spirits are becoming increasingly popular with consumers worldwide. More than half of Brits who took part in a OnePoll survey funded by beer giant Carlsberg said they have at least tried a non-alcoholic beverage, while 52% also said that non-alcoholic beers have become more socially acceptable in the past two years.

UK supermarkets earned close to £8 million this Christmas in sales of low and non-alcoholic beer alone, according to figures from Kantar.

Kris Gumbrell, co-founder of UK pub chain Brewhouse & Kitchen, told the drinks business last month that the move towards low strength beer is “one of the more surprisingly developments in the past 12 months.”

“We’ve seen in the popularity of session beers that the craft beer drinkers really enjoy beers with lower alcohol contents, so the natural progression would be to expand the low and zero alcohol beers.”

The low alcohol beer category has also benefitted from the rise of Dry January. An extra 1.1 million people planned to give up drinking at the start of 2019 as part of Dry January, according to Alcohol Change UK, bringing the total number of abstainers to just over 4 million this year.

“There’s a huge potential audience out there for us and we’re only just beginning,” Fink said.

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