According to the market research firm, non/low-alcohol beverages, particularly beer and spirits, are seeing dynamic growth not only in traditional non-imbibing regions like the Middle East, but also in mature markets including Western Europe and the US, driven by a growing health-conscious population and higher-quality product releases.
"Production advances allowing for more sophisticated and balanced products than first generation ‘de-alcoholized’ offerings, and synthetic prototypes focusing on compounds minimizing alcohol toxicity while claiming functional benefits, will all radically disrupt established positioning, occasions, and legislative developments,” Euromonitor senior alcohol drinks analyst Spiros Malandrakis said.
Last month, for example, Guinness released a ‘full-flavor, non-alcoholic’ lager in its home market of Ireland that promises to drink like other alcoholic beers in its portfolio.
“From moderation initiatives to breaking the taboo of teetotalism, the trend will gather further momentum, reach critical mass and enter the realms of a paradigm shift,” Malandrakis said.
Cannabis as a substitute
The rise of cannabis as a substitute to alcohol will have a hand in the growing consumer interest in no/low-alcohol beverage options, according to Malandrakis.
“As legalization initiatives gather further traction and alcohol manufacturers hesitantly embrace the rising green tide through ambitious R&D and still embryonic M&A activity, cannabis will increasingly monopolize the spotlight,” he said.
Cross-category hybrid products will be a key source of innovation with the emergence of cannabis beverages at the forefront led by “enthusiastic micro producers willing to take the inevitable risks and pave the way for bolder hybrid products.”
Alcohol-free products highlighting the non-psychoactive cannabis flavor sophistication will be the first wave of innovation in the cannabis beverage space, Malandrakis added.
In Canada, for example, non-alcoholic brewer and distiller Province Brands is on track to create a 'marijuana-powered' beer.