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The World Alcohol-Free Awards: Celebrating the Evolution of Beverage Culture

Non-alcoholic drinks are becoming increasingly popular, as a growing number of consumers are seeking healthier options.
April 24, 2024
Industry News

Celebrating the Evolution of Beverage Culture: The World Alcohol-Free Awards and the Rise of Non-Alcoholic Beverages

With 14% of Brits now teetotal, and an even higher proportion of younger people (19% of 18-24-year-olds) turning their backs on alcohol, a huge market opportunity is emerging. As beverage culture evolves to welcome and celebrate what is sometimes referred to as the ‘Cali-sober’ movement, we have arrived at a game-changing moment in the industry. As a marker of this evolutionary milestone, we saw the launch of the World Alcohol-Free Awards with took place at the start of March this year. Recognition for the sub 0.5% ABV market is growing, indicating that it's time to raise a glass to the new era of non-alcoholic drinks, and celebrate the innovation and quality that has brought us here.

The World Alcohol-Free Awards

The World Alcohol-Free Awards judges tasted a range of non-alcoholic drinks, including non-alcoholic wine, kombucha-like ferments and sparkling teas, bittersweet aperitifs, non-alcoholic "spirits," and non-alcoholic beers. A number of subcategories in the low/no market do remain in their infancy though, and the judging feedback from the WAF Awards shows there is some room for improvement:  

Summary bullet points form some observations:

"Functional spirits," botanical drinks promising a herbal high, were tasted but were generally lacking in flavour.
"The judges advise being adventurous and not seeking a straight-up swap for alcoholic drinks"
French producers are leading the trend of organic claims in the European market, as consumers crave more natural beer and cider options.
Although demand for healthful options is increasing, better-for-you claims remain niche.
With beer being the most popular alcoholic drink type when it comes to low- and no-alcohol options, the category is well-positioned to meet the growing consumer interest in alcohol moderation.
Functional drink brands are diversifying their offerings with a focus on mental wellness and immunity to cater to consumers' interest in holistic health. Plant-based functional ingredients such as tea and plant oils, including CBD and Minors, are gaining popularity as consumers look for natural options. Additionally, 56% of German adults prefer drinks with natural health-boosting ingredients over fortified ones

The Future of Non-Alcoholic Beverages: Trends and Projections

The future is looking bright for the world of non-alcoholic beverages. IWSR Drinks Market Analysis predicts that by 2026, the industry will see a growth of more than one third, driven primarily by the non-alcoholic sector.

No/low consumers are maturing at a global level, with Millennials the largest age group. It is also apparent that these low/no fans are not teetotal and that switching between alcohol and sub 0.5% ABV is common. These products continue to permeate the beverage industry, but there is still a long way to go to increase the availability, encouraging innovation in packaging, flavour, and functional benefits will further broaden the options available to consumers.

The market potential speaks for itself with No- and low-alcohol beverages having experienced more than 7% growth in volume across 10 global markets in 2022, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +7% from 2022 to 2026. No-alcohol beverages will spearhead this growth, accounting for over 90% of the forecasted total category volume growth. And to think quickly about the geographies of this trend: Germany, Japan, Spain, the US, and the UK are found to be the world’s most valuable no/low-alcohol markets.

The Rise of Water-Soluble Cannabinoid Formulations in the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Industry

At the World Alcohol-Free Awards, there were three different CBD drinks that received accolades for their beverages. There were examples of CBD incorporation into G&T style “spirit” alternatives, while CBD infused sparkling drinks were also highly commended. At TNL we understand the work that goes into creating a successful CBD drink, namely with respect to the stability of the formulation which remains dependent on (a) the base formulation and (b) the material of the container (can, glass etc.). Our product development team prides itself on its rigor and commitment to creating CBD formulations that taste delicious, have a long shelf-life, and actually work.

"Are you ready to explore a world of delicious, refreshing, and health-conscious options that won't compromise on taste or enjoyment? Join the growing number of consumers who are seeking to moderate their alcohol intake and embrace a more natural and healthful lifestyle with low- and no--low options."  

We have noticed an increase in the number of accounts seeking water-soluble options for functional product innovation. If you are interested in exploring cannabinoid formulations, please don't hesitate to reach out and speak with one of our chemists. We'd be happy to offer some suggestions and help you find the right solution for your needs.