Across Europe, Mintel stats show that consumers are gaining a thirst for non-alcoholic beer with Spanish drinkers the top consumers, followed by drinkers in Germany, Italy, Poland and France.
However despite the strong consumer demand for non-alcoholic beer, these launches accounted for just 3% of all global beer launch activity so far in 2014, less than the 4% in 2011 and significantly less than the 10% in 1999.
In the UK, 2014 has seen only 4% of new beer innovations which are non-alcoholic.
Jonny Forsyth, global drinks analyst at Mintel, said: “Non-alcoholic beer has huge long-term sales potential, both in Muslim-dominated regions and health-conscious but beer-loving Western markets. This is an area of innovation which all major brewers should be focusing on – as consumers want reassurance of product quality, something trusted brands can provide.
“The greatest influence on recent sales is their improved taste. Whilst NABs were pushed heavily in the late-1990s and early 2000s, this failed to translate into global sales because the product was widely viewed as inferior. Yet, the modern varieties – especially in Germany – are much closer to the taste of full alcohol beer and make an ideal adult or premium ‘soft drink’ option.”
Furthermore, Mintel’s research shows that the popularity of non-alcoholic beer is strongest amongst older consumers and women.
Forsyth said this would be critical in attempt to reverse flat beer sales in Western market and non-alcoholic beers will be a key pillar of strategies to attract different demographics into the beer category.
Mintel’s research also shows the continued uptake of low-alcoholic beers, especially beer mixes/Radlers which tend to be fruit-flavoured beers mixed with juices at an ABV of around 2-3%.