Scottish Daily Mail

Middle-aged lead a sales surge for alcohol-free beer

- By Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Editor

SALES of alcohol-free beer have surged 64 per cent in a year as Britons who still fancy a swift half or three turn to the healthier tipple.

And as warnings about the damage that boozing does to the body filter through – as well as the calories that beer piles on – it is the over-45s leading the trend.

Such is the demand for low-alcohol beers and wines, with improved recipes making them taste closer to the real thing, that some supermarke­ts are creating aisles dedicated to them.

Chris Hayward of retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel, which compared sales of non-alcoholic beer this month to the same period last year, said: ‘We’ve witnessed significan­t growth across all ages, but it’s the over 45s who are really leading the march – sales of nonalcohol­ic beers grew by 77 per cent among this age group, far ahead of the overall rate.

‘More people are choosing to abstain or limit their alcohol consumptio­n, and there’s been a number of entrants in the nonalcohol­ic beer market who have jumped on to this trend.

‘Most notable have been Heineken and Budweiser, with strong marketing campaigns.’

Alcohol-free beer may also be seen as a healthier option, as there is none of the associated risk to the liver, hangovers or the danger of drink-driving. There are also fewer calories, as a pint of alcohol-free beer will typically come in at around 150 calories, versus 190 for standard lager and as much as 240 for a strong ale.

The St Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk supplies a series of alcohol-free beers to supermarke­ts which now make up more than 15 per cent of its sales. Chief executive Steve Magnall said: ‘We have already increased both our brewing and our bottling capacity to cope with demand for our alcoholfre­e beers and there’s further investment in the pipeline.

‘These products are making a huge impact at a time when people are crying out for decent alcoholfre­e alternativ­es and are fed up with the array of dealcoholi­sed, weak offerings from many of the breweries out there.’ However the British Beer And Pub Associatio­n said that sales of standard beer are falling, with pubs, hotels, clubs and restaurant­s down 1.9 per cent in the first three months of 2018 compared to the same period last year.

Yesterday the Mail revealed that Britain’s biggest beer festival, the Campaign For Real Ale’s Great British Beer Festival in London in August, is to offer alcohol-free ales for the first time.

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