The no-alcohol beer and low-alcohol beer (NABLAB) category is taking off in the UK. Data from CGA show that, in the first half of 2017 in the UK, 12% of legal drinking age adults who visited a licensed venue claimed not to drink alcohol. “Therefore, there is a clear consumer need for a good non-alcoholic offer, which in 48% of outlets includes no-and low-ABV products,” said CGA client director Rachael Chard. Some 9,000 additional outlets now stock no-and low-alcohol beers in their sites compared with three years ago.

And, according to Nielsen the UK retail market value sales of NABLAB brews grew by £6m (20%) to £34.7m across Aug16-Jul17, the highest growth in five years.

Brewers have been attempting to capitalise on this rapid growth, particularly in light of stagnating volumes in many mature markets. The craft category has generally been heavily biased towards higher ABV beers, so the non/low alcohol category has presented a less crowded field for brewers to play in, one which has the added benefit of supporting apparent social responsibility credentials.

“These products are becoming more prevalent within on-premises as a result of health/taste and lack of appeal causing consumers to reduce alcohol consumption or abstain from drinking alcohol,” said Chard. The category is also expanding outside of the mainstream and into craft, providing pubs the opportunity to stock a variety that suits their customers’ requirements.

China is currently the most prolific global innovator in the NABLAB category according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database. Over one in four (29%) beers launched in China in 2016 were low/no alcohol compared to 12% in Spain, 11% in Germany and 7% in the UK.

Mintel predicts the Middle East and Africa will be a hotbed for NABLAB launches, accounting for around 30% of beer launches in these regions in 2016, up from 22% the previous year.