To exclude is no longer only a frowned-upon social practice, it has become a major consumer trend! Excluding, removing or reducing certain elements from life or products are seen as ways to improve health. And one of these exclusions is of course, alcohol.
And while holistically, trends also address the need to recharge, the focus is definitely on reducing and using healthier and more natural or organic ingredients in food and beverages. Even fast-food giant, McDonalds are following the trend with the introduction of a meat-free McVegan Burger in Finland. And with Clear Coffee, you can now drink coffee without the worry of stained teeth…
Despite research sharing the health benefits of wine, the search for alternatives when it comes to preservatives, sugar and calories, also extends to alcohol. This trends goes hand in hand with the Millennials drinking less and almost 25% of young adults abstaining from alcohol. “Sobriety is the new black”, says The Drinks Business.
No surprise then that globally, drinks companies, especially beer and wine brands, are exploring low or no alcohol options. According to the beveragedaily.com, the non-alcoholic wine and beer market is to see a compound annual growth rate of 7.6% from 2018 to 2024.
Why not only drink alternative drinks? Except for socialising around drinks, wine and beer have health benefits when it comes to antioxidants and electrolytes and without the alcohol it seems that these drinks can be quite beneficial to our health. Both drinks are also popular because of the way they taste. And it is exactly the taste that has been an issue in the past.
Being a winemaker, I understand the contribution alcohol makes to the taste of the wine. The fullness and mouthfeel it contributes. But it does not take a winemaker to taste the difference. And that, in my opinion, is the biggest challenge of the low and no alcohol wine market. Visiting Prowein earlier this year, I made a point of tasting the non-alcoholic wines on offer. Some were quite drinkable, but the taste is different. To make up for the lacking alcohol body and heat, most wines, even when called dry, was a bit too sweet for my taste.
But having said this, technology is changing and the quality of non-alcoholic wines and beers are getting better. And while the image of these products might have been a challenge in the past, I think even this is changing. Most importantly, the demand is there. It is there because of lifestyle and health reasons and in South Africa, where public transport is a challenge, it is also important from a safety and responsibility perspective. If you are in the South African drinks industry, I would suggest at least researching non-alcoholic alternatives or perhaps invest in the taxi business!