High and dry: low- and no-alcohol drinks are on the rise

Published: Wednesday 29 January 2020

For the one in ten drinkers (that’s around 4 million UK adults) who declared an intention to abstain from alcohol during ‘Dry January’, the end of the challenge is nigh.

Not all those with good intentions on 1 January will have remained resolute. A YouGov poll of Dry January participants showed almost a third (29%) had slipped in the first week, one in ten ‘calling it a day’ and returning to old habits. However, an optimistic 70% safely made it through the first week with an intention to keep their New Year’s resolution.

It’s unsurprising, perhaps, that among the motivational tips from health experts - including Alcohol Change, the charity behind Dry January - is to discover tasty no-alcohol alternatives to one’s usual tipple. And, with research from the University of Sussex finding that taking part in Dry January often helps people to drink more healthily all year round, those new discoveries of low- and no-alcohol drinks clearly have a place in our shopping trolleys and on bar menus long after January.

In fact, the low- and no-alcohol drinks market is growing strongly. Recent research by CGA shows that on-trade sales of such drinks in pubs, bars and restaurants have increased by 48% during 2019, making it a £60m-a-year category. The growth of alcohol-free drinks is particularly high, at 80%.

Although trends in retail sales often follow several steps behind the out-of-home drinks sector, these patterns can be seen in the off-trade drinks market too, with £43m spent by Brits on low- and no-alcohol beer in 2019.

So, while it’s a relatively immature sector (just 1.3% of the UK’s total beverage alcohol market), the future looks healthy for drinks producers who are innovating in response to changing patterns of consumer behaviour.

That’s worth raising a glass to!

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Rebecca Copping
Rebecca Copping
Associate Partner
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