No Low drinks: Will the alcohol-free beverage trend keep going?

NOLO Getränke
Foto: © Roy Ernest auf Pixabay

Alcohol: No, thanks! No Low drinks are conquering the market and challenging alcoholic beverage choices. Even the drinks industry is carefully following latest developments. Alcohol-free alternatives are definitely here, but are they here to stay?

  • Forecast: According to surveys, 80% of people would rather have No Low alternatives
  • Industry experts expect further growth
  • Producers of alcohol-free alternatives face several challenges

Those looking for enjoyment in a bottle, but consciously avoiding alcohol, can find solutions to fit their lifestyle in No Low drinks – beverages with either “no” or “low” alcohol. Meanwhile, there’s much more to choose from beyond alcohol-free beer or champagne. The new generation of No Low beverages not only includes alcohol-free wine, but an ever-growing number of spirit alternatives with no and low alcohol.

The Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report 2022 confirms that non-alcoholic aperitifs have become a focal point for the beverage industry as part of a more mindful lifestyle. The spirits producer joined the race within the industry by launching a successful campaign in 2021.  But how will non-alcoholic beverage trends look in the future – and how should we actually define No Low today?

No Low drinks: What are they?

In everyday terms, No Low beverages have long been known as “non-alcoholic spirits.” In fact, the term is strongly defined, according to EU regulation of spirits: for example, consumer protection dictates that designations like “gin” or “whiskey” may not be used for alcohol-free beverages. The wording “No Low drinks” is synonymous with non-alcoholic aperitifs, often called “alcohol-free alternatives” on drink menus. By definition, No Low drinks refer to all alternatives to alcoholic beverages with “no” and “low” alcohol. These include alcohol-free beverages with up to 0.5 vol. % alcohol, as well as alcohol-free beverages with guaranteed 0.0 vol. %.

The upward trend of alcohol-free alternatives

At the beginning of 2020, the corona pandemic held the entire world in its grip. Many people focused on mental and physical health as a way to combat the virus. A healthy lifestyle became indispensable – in keeping with the longer-term global trend toward prioritizing health. Even before the pandemic era, consumers were increasingly developing a new awareness for physical wellness, sustainability, high-quality organic products, and mindful drinking. According to market analysis from IWSR, sales of alcohol-free aperitifs had already reached about €80 million in 2020. The market potential of No Lo beverages was also clear to two Berlin entrepreneurs. During the corona lockdowns, the savvy duo opened the first alcohol-free kiosk in Germany, with the sociable flair of Berlin‘s late-night convenience shop – the so-called “Späti”.

Short-lived lifestyle product or mindful drink culture of the future

What’s the outlook for the apéro without alcohol?

The variety of non-alcoholic spirits and wine with modern labels and authentic taste is expanding, and not only at Berlin kiosks. The beverage industry is constantly enriched by new, creative alternatives beyond simply alcohol-free beer, sparkling wine – and mocktails.

Eagar conscious consumers are looking for less sugar and a taste experience that comes close to the alcoholic original. These criteria are top of the agenda for the new generation of No Low beverage drinkers. The significance of this more recent development is also reflected in current surveys too. For example, in January 2022, MARTINI® found that almost 35% of Germans approve of the development of alcohol-free alternatives, while 80% of those surveyed for the Bacardi Cocktail Trends Reports 2022 wanted to integrate more No Low alternatives into their day-to-day lives. This reveals an emerging trend toward alcohol-free spirits, further supported by the IWSR forecast: By the year 2024, sales of No Low beverages should reach approximately $500 million in Western Europe.

Challenges No Low producers face

Demand for No Low drinks is growing, but this simultaneously presents new challenges for manufacturers of those beverages.

  1. Taste
    Alcohol, as flavor enhancer, must be replaced in order to retain the trademark taste experience of wine, whiskey, vodka, and the like.
  2. Production
    Production processes are complicated and tedious, due to the formulation of new flavors.
  3. Shelf life
    Alcohol is a preservative, which is completely missing from alcohol-free aperitifs. This means the shelf-life of the product takes a real hit.

Challenge accepted: No Low as an established trend

In order to meet the challenges presented to them, No Low producers have found revolutionary techniques for production, bottling, and sealing processes. ROTKÄPPCHEN® have been leading experts in the production of alcohol-free sparkling wine, for years. The company uses “spinning cone technology” to evaporate alcohol at 35°C. This process can also be adapted to produce alcohol-free wine. New technologies like these are good news for the beverage industry, if the demand for non-alcoholic beverages continues to grow. ROTKÄPPCHEN® is not alone. Producers like KOLONNE NULL® offer alcohol-free and low-calorie varieties of wine. Meanwhile, LAORI® focuses on gin and rum alternatives, with high-quality aesthetics and natural flavors.

Herstellung Getränk
Photo: © Messe München

Curtain up for creativity: Welcome to drinktec 2022

The No Low trend will be making an appearance at the 2022 world-leading beverage and liquid food industry trade fair. From September 16 to 22, discover the innovative power of the No Low drink industry in Munich. Get first-hand knowledge of the opportunities in the mindful drinking sector. Discover the New Beverage Concepts (Hall A5) – a special show highlighting the latest in new ingredients and innovative beverage concepts. This platform invites visitors to participate directly and presents the latest developments in sweeteners, colorants, flavors, ingredients, and additives, as well as treatments, formulas – and much more.

In the drinktec convention halls, you can experience the full wealth of exciting ideas when it comes to production techniques for alcohol-free beverages, right down to sealing the bottles. Ready to delve into the trends in the beverage and food Industry related to nonalcoholic  and sugar-free drinks – including everything from non-alcoholic spirits to smoothies? Then drinktec 2022 is for you. Get your ticket now to gain new inspiration and insight into this exciting area, September 12–16, 2022 at Messe München.

Would you like to find out about current trends on the beverage market and exchange professional information? Then we invite you to take part in the next drinktec, which will be held in Munich from September 12 to 16, 2022.

drinktec Blog-Team

The drinktec team writes reports on everything to do with drinktec and gives insights into what is going on behind the scenes of the trade fair.