The soft drink industry has grown exponentially in the past year as consumers move from a night of alcoholic drinks to prioritizing their health and well-being.
While some people cut back on their consumption altogether, others are switching to drinks that taste like their favorite drinks without alcohol. Once considered a passing – even ridiculed – trend, non-alcoholic wine, beer and, more recently, spirits can now be found in bars, restaurants and grocery stores around the world.
However, most consumers of these drinks do not give up alcohol forever. Alcohol Analysis Firm IWSR said 58% of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drink consumers still drink, but in moderation.
“As we go through a pandemic, there is an even greater need … to connect and connect with friends and family, and drinking is … a key element of that,” said Jeff Menashe, founder and CEO of beverage company Demeter & Co.
The difference is that people now want to “drink healthier,” he said.
Whether it’s gin, tequila, vodka or rum, a soft drink startup CleanCo claims his line of drinks tastes like the real thing.
Their price categories do not differ much either.
A 700ml bottle of Hendrick’s gin costs about $ 40, while the alcohol-free version of CleanCo costs about $ 25.
But that doesn’t stop consumers from paying their bills. According to the analytical company NielsenIQ, sales of non-alcoholic beverages rose 33.2% last year, with total sales of $ 331 million.
Sales of non-alcoholic beer and cider increased by 31.7%, but, primarily, sales of non-alcoholic beverages increased by 113.4% over the same period.
Non-alcoholic apple vodka and spiced rum from CleanCo.
Courtesy of CleanCo
The cost is justified by the time and effort it takes to create soft drinks that have the same taste, aroma and mouthfeel as traditional spirits, said CleanCo chairman Justin Hicklin.
“We use eight or nine different … distillation methods to extract the flavors,” he said. “This is an extremely difficult task – and quite costly.”
Khiklin said the juniper used to make the non-alcoholic gin comes from a single source in Bulgaria – “the best juniper you can buy.”
CleanCo entered the UK market in 2018 after founder Spencer Matthews saw significant growth potential in a once highly underrepresented industry. The brand partnered with Demeter & Co, which brought the company’s soft drinks to the US market in October.
Menashe estimates there are seven to 10 million potential customers in the United Kingdom and another 12 to 15 million in the United States.
“We are focused on these two markets for the next two years,” he said.
Manufactured soft drink bottles Lyre even more expensive. Founded in 2019, the company completed a £ 20 million ($ 26 million) funding round in November, with the business now valued at £ 270 million ($ 357 million).
“The products are formulated with ingredients sourced from 39 countries of origin to ensure an accurate flavor profile,” said Lyre CEO Mark Livings. “Some are so complex that they contain over 36 different flavors.”
Livings said the brand is in “hyper-growth” mode, with bottles sold every 30 seconds.
“Currently, pricing is not an issue for consumers,” he said.
The growth in demand for non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks is also rapidly gaining momentum in Asia and the Middle East.
Available in 60 countries, Lyre’s three largest markets in Asia are Singapore, Hong Kong and mainland China. The company has expanded to Malaysia and eight countries in the Middle East, which have strict regulations on alcoholic beverages.
“We are on a completely different course [there] how we feel about the rest of the world, Livings said. – We do this with respect … making sure we comply with all local laws and everything …
Lyre’s non-alcoholic gin ‘Dry London Spirit’ is the company’s most popular product in the United Kingdom.
Courtesy of Lyre’s
Livings said now is an exciting time for the global alcoholic beverage industry, which could add “a couple billion additional people” to it.
“You could see the highest income or very wealthy people prioritize their health, but now it is starting to creep into all consumer groups,” he said.
Age is another factor. Young people who grew up following health movements that promote plant-based and organic foods say they drink less alcohol than previous generations. study published by the International Journal of Drug Policy.
However, not everyone drinks soft drinks. Ranked 49th among the world’s best bars in 2021, Hong Kong’s Darkside Restaurant is based on ingredients such as coconut water, Sichuan pepper and kombucha rather than alcohol substitutes.
“We work with kombucha because not only does it create flavor, but we’ve noticed that most of the reasons people don’t drink alcohol during social gatherings are because they’re on a detox, alcohol-free diet, or pregnant. , “said Arkady Rybak, director of bars at Rosewood Hong Kong, where Darkside is located.
“These categories of guests tend to never give up the gut-friendly kombucha,” he said.
While soft drinks are becoming “the norm rather than the anomaly,” not everyone is inclined to try them, Singaporean Eunice Tan said.
Tan said she doesn’t like the taste of alcohol, so she won’t like foods that mimic the taste of gin or bourbon.
Lyre Spiced Cane Spirit is one of her bestsellers.
Courtesy of Lyre’s
“Since I’ve never been drunk, I don’t know how ‘original’ tastes and what ‘noise’ it makes,” she said. “So no, I wouldn’t have chosen the non-alcoholic alternative … if I hadn’t thrown a house party and wanted to serve my guests.”
Some soft drinks are also not completely non-alcoholic. According to the IWSR, soft drinks are defined as having less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. This is one of the reasons addiction counselors recommend that people with a history of alcohol abuse avoid these drinks, although opinions on this matter are ambiguous, according to the website of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Until recently, teetotalers could choose from soft drinks, soft drinks, juice or water in bars and restaurants, which was not enough for some.
“The cocktails were always too cute and childish … I could have mixed OJ and 7 Up myself,” Tan said. “When I dine out or in a bar, I would appreciate the creativity and attentiveness of the establishment in satisfying the tastes of adults.”
Cloudstreet’s “Can’t Believe It’s Not Red Wine!” made from cherry juice, pink peppercorns and mushroom syrup.
Courtesy of Cloudstreet
Dan Durkin, food and beverage director at The American Club Singapore, said the reaction was positive after the social club unveiled the British brand’s soft drinks. Seedlings…
“If you have a gin and tonic made with Seedlip gin, you will feel like you are drinking a real drink,” he said.
He said that people ask for these drinks not only for health and religious reasons, but also because they do not want to “appear out of place in the company of friends or colleagues.” Others need options other than “just an old soft drink, but something more interesting and original,” he said.
Cloudstreet’s song “I Really Mead You Right Now” is made from Portuguese honey and flowers.
Courtesy of Cloudstreet
Some restaurants, such as Cloudstreet in Singapore, even combine soft drinks with food.
“We didn’t want to exclude our non-drinking guests from the full experience,” said Vinodhan Veloo, Group Manager for Drinks at Cloudstreet. “We even serve … pairs in the same glasses for consistency.”
Price? Additional S $ 128 (US $ 94) per person.
Customers pay big bucks because the drinks contain ingredients like Portuguese honey, lapsang sushong (a type of black tea), pink pepper and mushroom syrup, Velu said.
Hong Kong’s DarkSide restaurant has three soft drinks on its menu.
Courtesy of DarkSide
According to IWSR, there is no downward trend in the growth rate of non-alcoholic beverages. The beverage analysis company predicts the industry will grow 31% by 2024 as more bars and restaurants offer soft drinks.
“I remember walking into a restaurant 20 years ago that had no vegetarian options,” said CleanCo’s Hicklin. Likewise, “the bars today would not survive if they only sold alcoholic beverages.”