What’s inspiring innovation in low-to-no beverages?

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Global sales of low- and no-alcohol beverages are surging. Market research firm IWSR, consumption is 31% by 2024 across 10 markets: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the US. Collectively, these countries account for 75% of the low-to-no sector.

Daniel Woolfson, food and drink editor at The Grocer,​ told a recent IFF event on the topic – NOLO LAND – that the sector has ‘exploded’, with growth propelled by evolving consumer behaviour during COVID-19 lockdowns.

“The pandemic has helped a lot of fledgling low and no brands because it has created an environment in which people aren’t wanting to drink full strength alcohol at home all week and they are more eager to try different brands by buying them online, more open to different forms of marketing, different channels,”​ Woolfson believes.

“The general consensus in the drinks industry in the UK is that this really is the most exciting area of growth, of product development potentially, and in many cases, it’s seen as a really good opportunity for investment. People are comparing it to the early years of plant-based.”

So, what is driving expansion in low-to-no beverages?

The biggest factor supporting growth are the improvements low- and no-alcohol beverage manufacturers have made to improve the organoleptic profile of their products Katy Askew, Senior Editor of FoodNavigator, told the IFF event.

“Dynamic growth seen in low-to-no can be linked to the leaps and bounds made in improving the drinking experience…. Improved depth of flavour, aroma and mouthfeel have been essential in drawing consumers into the category,”​ she suggested.

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