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Products from Heineken including Heineken 0.0 Alcohol-Free Lager and Birra Moretti Zero Alcohol-Free Beer were among those to have seen price rises

Prices of low & no-alcohol beers and ciders are increasing faster than their full-strength counterparts, with shelf-edge prices for some lines jumping by 50% or more in the space of a year.

According to The Grocer analysis of Assosia data, low & no-alcohol beer and cider prices in the big four mults and Waitrose have climbed 13.3% since the start of last year. This compares to a smaller increase of 10.4% in beer and cider as a whole across the same period.

When comparing display prices on 1 January 2024 to those in the same week of 2023 [Assosia w/c 2 January 2023], two of the five biggest proportional price increases seen in beer and cider were for low & no-alcohol products.

These were Erdinger Alkoholfrei Wheat Beer in Waitrose, a 500ml bottle of which rose 75% from £1 to £1.75, and 12-packs of Heineken 0.0 Alcohol-Free Lager in Sainsbury’s, which jumped from £7 to £11.50 – an increase of 64.3%. The same SKU rose by 19.8% – also to £11.50 – in Tesco.

Some shelf-edge prices have also risen in the last month, with nine low & no-alcohol beers and ciders having seen an average price hike of 22.3% since the start of December [Assosia].

These included four-packs of Erdinger Alkoholfrei, Birra Moretti Zero Alcohol-Free Beer, and Guinness Draught 0.0 Alcohol-Free Stout in Waitrose, which have increased by 40%, 26% and 25% respectively.

Some increases in shelf-edge prices can be attributed to changes in promotional activity. Erdinger Alkoholfrei in Waitrose, for example, was on promotion at £1 (down from £1.65) last January, but is not this year.

Adnams Ghost Ship 0.5% in Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, benefited from a 30p cut in its shelf-edge price to £1 last January, but is only available at the same price with a Nectar card this year, meaning its shelf-edge price has climbed 50%, to £1.50.

Adnams’ head of production Fergus Fitzgerald said he hoped this was a sign the low & no market was maturing and needed “deep price promotions less than in previous years”.

However, pre-promotional prices of low & no-alcohol beers and ciders have also grown since last January. In total 76, or 61.2%, of the 124 lines on sale both this year and last saw an increase in pre-promotional price, by an average of 15.6%.

These included: 500ml bottles of Doom Bar Brewery Zero Amber Ale in Asda (+50%), 15-packs of Beck’s Blue Alcohol-Free Lager in Asda (+42.3%), eight-packs of Bavaria 0.0% Original Alcohol-Free Beer in Asda (+37.5%) and four-packs of Birra Moretti Zero Alcohol-Free Beer in Waitrose (+27.3%).

The price rises come despite low & no-alcohol products being exempt from duty payments to HMRC. Rates for beers over 3.5% abv, meanwhile, rose by 10.1% in August 2023.

A spokeswoman for Waitrose said: “While no retailer is immune to inflation, we work closely with our suppliers to keep costs down. As a result, many of our prices have stayed flat, whilst others have been closely managed.”

Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, said it was “misleading” to compare promotional prices in 2023 with shelf-edge prices in 2024.

“Prices can go up and down for a range of reasons but we’re committed to offering our customers great value,” a spokeswoman for the retailer said. “That’s why right now customers will find a range of savings across low-alcohol and alcohol-free beer with Nectar Prices.”

Tesco, Morrisons and Asda did not respond to requests for comment.