Non-alcoholic beer might sound like something of an oxymoron, but it’s actually a growing trend.
As customers become increasingly more health conscious, market research firm Mintel found in its recent report, “Beer: Incl Impact of COVID-19 US, November 2020,” that many customers are reaching for low-alcohol and alcohol-free beer options. That’s because customers often perceive beers that features no or reduced alcohol as healthier.
Some 14% of beer drinkers are opting for low-alcohol beer options. Non-alcoholic beer demand is also rising, and as a result, more manufacturers are launching zero-alcohol beers, the Mintel report explained. Major players Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken and Coors Brewing Co. are just a few of the big names rolling out products in this space.
The global non-alcoholic beer market size is expected to grow from $15.09 billion in 2020 to $16.65 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.3%, according to “The Business Research Company’s Non-Alcoholic Beer Global Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Growth And Change.” While much of the predicted growth in 2021 is expected to come from resumed operations following COVID-19, the non-alcoholic beer market is expected to continue expanding from there to reach $23.27 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 8.7%.
U.S. convenience numbers confirm the growth trend. In the c-store channel, non-alcoholic beer dollar sales hit $31.4 million, up 26.2% for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 23, 2021, and unit sales for the period rolled in at 3.78 million, up 12.8% per NielsenIQ Total U.S. Convenience data.
It’s important to note that it’s not just teetotalers reaching for non-alcoholic options. Regular beer drinkers are choosing alcohol-free options from time-to-time as well. For example, many regular beer drinkers ditch beer in the month of January to participate in “Dry January,” where people abstain from alcohol during the first month of the year, usually in an attempt to start the year in a more healthful way. Non-alcoholic beer can be an option during this time for those who still enjoy the flavor of beer. Therefore, the start of the year is a great time for convenience stores to make customers aware of their zero-alcohol beer options.
Many beer drinkers also prefer to manage their alcohol consumption by alternating between alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic drinks. In other words, they may start the night with a beer, then switch to juice or a soft drink before having another beer. Non-alcoholic beer options allow them to continue to enjoy the taste of beer even as they balance their alcohol consumption.
As this trend is expected to grow, savvy c-stores are making space for non-alcoholic beer.