A plethora of lower-alcohol beers is being rolled out as brewers take advantage of changes to duty rates.
Duty changes announced in the last budget come into force from today (1 October), with beers below 2.8% abv charged at half the standard rate of duty, while those above 7.5% abv pay an extra 25%.
Last week, Carlsberg announced it was cutting the abv of Skol lager from 3% to 2.8% to take advantage of the change. The lower-alcohol cans will carry the same £1.05 rsp as the 3% version, which the brewer said would give it margin to invest in the brand if retailers supported the lower-alcohol category. The 2.8% version of Skol is expected to roll out to retailers from the middle of this month.
“We are responding directly to the government’s duty initiative to encourage the development of beers at lower abv levels,” said Dr Isaac Sheps, chief executive of Skol owner Carlsberg UK. “We believe the change to 2.8% will increase Skol’s appeal to consumers looking for lower-abv options.”
A few days later, Greene King announced it had developed 2.8% abv Tolly English Ale, being rolled out to the on-trade. AB InBev has also gone the lower-alcohol route, launching 2.8% abv versions of Labatt’s and Rolling Rock on a trial basis in Asda last month.
A Mintel report published in August found 29% of consumers would be interested in a wider range of non-alcoholic and lower strength beer and wine.