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Non-alcoholic beer drinkers were “looking for different options” in Dry January, said Club Soda founder Laura Willoughby

Non-alcoholic spirits and wines made the biggest gains in the mults in Dry January, while big low & no beer brands declined, exclusive data for The Grocer has revealed.

Diageo’s Gordon’s 0.0% and Tanqueray 0.0% spirits, as well as prosecco alternative Nosecco, McGuigan Zero and Kopparberg Strawberry & Lime Alcohol Free all steamed ahead this Dry January [NielsenIQ 4 w/e 29 January 2022].

By contrast, the UK’s biggest non-alcoholic beer brands – Heineken 0.0, Beck’s Blue and BrewDog Punk AF – all saw their sales decline versus the same period last year.

Heineken 0.0, the UK’s biggest non-alcoholic brand, fell 6.8% to £1.9m versus the same period in 2021. Beck’s Blue, owned by Budweiser Brewing Group, dropped by almost a quarter (24.8%) to £970k. Punk AF fell 5.5% to £620k [NielsenIQ].

The declines in these bigger non-alcoholic beer brands suggested “beer drinkers are looking for different options”, said Club Soda founder Laura Willoughby, who ran a pop-up alcohol-free off-licence in central London over December and January.

”Nearly everyone in our store is picking up smaller and craft brands and are excited by the range of options. This trend shows there is more choice in the beer space. The number of requests we have for Guinness 0 (which seems to be like gold dust right now) back that up.” 

Nielsen BWS consultant Rob Hallworth stressed low & no beer sales were still up 17% over the full-year period. It still “over indexes significantly” compared with other alcohol alternatives, he added.

Indeed, Heineken 0.0 alone added £5m over the 52 weeks to 11 September 2021, an increase of 25.8%. That makes it the UK’s 28th biggest beer brand over the full-year period [NielsenIQ].

Dry January saw the entire low & no category rack up £16.3m in sales – up 1.3% on the previous year. During that time, it outgrew alcohol, sales of which were down 14.6% to £1,104m versus the same period in 2021. However, retail sales of alcohol this January were still well up on 2020 levels of £1,026m [NielsenIQ].