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Could NoLo drinks be the future?

No- and low-alcohol (NoLo) drinks have been on the rise throughout the pandemic and beyond, and is projected to grow more than thirty percent by 2024. But could alcohol-free drinking really be the future? Eloise Feilden reports.

Could NoLo drinks be the future?

Sales of no- and low- alcohol are predicted to hit almost 19 million cases and a value of $741m (£558m) in 2021, according to reports by IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, as consumers turn towards healthier living and conscious consumption.

Tesco, which expects around a quarter of UK adults to drink only no- and low-alcohol drinks at Christmas, said sales of NoLo spirits soared by 106% since the beginning of 2021, while Sainsbury’s said it had seen a 91% year-on-year increase, and sales in the category overall grew by 24% last year compared to 2020.

Evidence of the trend for sober-curiosity is also growing globally. Nielsen CGA research showed that 58% of people were drinking more NoLo in late 2021 than a year earlier, and eight in ten people were eager to embrace more NoLo options.

Beer and cider currently dominate the category, accounting for 92% of all NoLo products on the market. But predictions by alcohol removal specialist BevZero suggest this could be set to change.

“The alcohol-free beverage category is in its infancy with new products, outside of beer and cider, launching on a daily basis,” Debbie Novograd, BevZero CEO, told db.

According to Novograd, “consumers are seeking moderation, not simply abstinence”, and a stronger focus on premiumisation is needed to push the category forward.

Introduction of new formats within the non-alcoholic category will also ensure a wide range of choices, including growth in non-alcoholic functional beverages, including CBD, THC and botanical infusions, according to Novograd.

Innovative ingredients and combinations delivering on the “better for you” beverage categories will continue to improve the category’s positioning and influence bigger drinks brands to create their own alternatives.

Technology is also improving, meaning better options and more choice for those looking to drink less.

“As consumer interest has grown so has expertise and technology. New, more affordable and specialised technologies have come to market making it possible to create alcohol free beverages from alcoholic base products,” Novograd added.

In the U.S. and the U.K. specifically, a quarter of consumers are planning to drink cocktails with lower alcohol content, as well as more non-alcoholic cocktails. Over half (53%) of global consumers also intend to follow Dry January, with 38% doing so to be more mindful with their drinking habits, according to the Bacardi Holiday Survey 2021.

So whether it’s an alcohol-free cocktail on Christmas day or a month-long detox, NoLo drinks are on the up, and their popularity shows no signs of slowing.

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