Close Menu

Move over booze: Asahi ups alcohol-free production share

No- and low-alcohol drinks will generate 50% of Asahi’s beverage sales by 2040, the Japanese multinational’s chief executive has said.

Move over booze: Asahi ups alcohol-free production share

Atsushi Katsuki, head of the company which produces beers including Asahi Super Dry, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell, has said that lower ABV drinks offer a big opportunity for the company. Japanese consumers, in a bid to be more health-conscious, are rejecting beer, wine and spirits, creating a gap in the market for drinks in the no- and low-alcohol category.

“It’s a big opportunity as long as we can go down the premium path,” Katsuki told the Financial Times. “Among global players, we have a strong advantage since we have capabilities in both beer and alcohol beverages as well as soft drinks.”

Asahi has outlined plans to increase the proportion of products with an ABV of 3.5% or less from 10% last year to 20% by 2030. The company has now said this share will be brought up to 50% by 2040.

Alcohol-free and lower ABV drinks offer an appealing picture for beverage companies, as they have higher margins than soft drinks but avoid alcohol tax.

Japan’s government has recently cracked down on alcohol consumption in the country, pushing the growth of no- and low-alcohol drinks even further. Just one year after a government-backed project was launched to counter the drop in consumption among young adults, Japan’s latest draft of guidelines on health-conscious drinking warns that one beer or glass of sake a day could be dangerous.

And Japan is not the only country seeing growth in no and low. The category is now worth more than US$13 billion globally, and the alcohol-free share of the overall alcohol market is expected to grow to nearly 4% by 2027, according to IWSR data.

Asahi plans to capitalise on the global trend and expand its line-up of alcohol-free beverages in the US through investments in start-ups.

“The US market is the best and biggest market for us, and it’s also the missing piece for us,” Katsuki said. Earlier this year, Asahi Europe & International (AEI) announced the acquisition of Wisconsin’s Octopi Brewing, revealing plans to brew Asahi Super Dry in the US for the first time.

The company is also pushing alcohol-free products through big-name partnerships. The group announced a multi-year partnership between Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% and Ferrari in January 2024. 

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No