Carlsberg: ‘We are seeing a significant increase in alcohol-free’

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Carlsberg Carlsberg group NABLAB

Carlsberg saw alcohol-free brew volumes grow 33% across Western Europe in FY2018: “We see a significant increase in alcohol-free and are putting a lot of money behind that going forward,” says the company.

Its first global standalone alcohol-free brew Birell – which was launched in May in Bulgaria and Poland – has been met with a ‘positive response’ with a wider roll out planned for this year. It also has a number of other alcohol-free brews.

Carlsberg’s craft, specialty and alcohol-free brews now make up 30% of its global revenues.  

Carlsberg 0.0%, Baltika #0 and Feldschlösschen Alkoholfrei

Carlsberg set out a commitment to non-alcoholic beer in 2016 when it launched its strategy plan SAIL22.

This sets out a strategy to ‘leverage growing health and wellness trends and our R&D capabilities to drive growth in non-alcohol’.

Carlsberg observes that 68% of consumers aged 24-45 makes conscious attempts to eat and drink healthily, while its research suggests that low and no alcoholic beers are becoming 'more socially acceptable'.

It also notes that the growth rate for non-alcoholic beer is three times higher than the average beer market, with gross profit per hectolitre exceeding the average for the beer category.

Craft, specialities and alcohol-free beer now make up 7% of Carlsberg volumes and 30% of revenues globally.

Its strategy for non-alcoholic beer is to drive the category forward through both line extensions and stand-alone brands; as well as investing in technological advantages to overcome taste barriers and offer healthier alternatives to consumers.

Carlsberg’s alcohol-free brews include a number of varieties on the flagship brand (Carlsberg non-alcoholic, Carlsberg organic non-alcoholic, Carlsberg 0.0% and Carlsberg Nordic Gylden Bryg, for example) as well as other brands such as Munkholm in Norway, Feldschlösschen Alkoholfrei in Switzerland and Baltika #0 in Russia (which grew 35% in FY2018).

In May, Carlsberg launched Birell: it’s first global standalone alcohol-free brew. Birell’s initial launch was in two styles – Pilsner Lager and Belgian Wit – in Poland and Bulgaria, and has been met ‘with positive initial consumer response’, according to Carlsberg. This year, Birell will roll out to other markets.

Birell launch

birell alcohol free

Developed specifically as an alcohol-free beer, Birell has been designed to deliver the same body, mouthfeel, foam, and taste of regular alcohol.

“Birell is made from ingredients of natural origin (barley, wheat, hops, water), free from artificial preservatives and colours,” ​says Carlsberg. “It contains no added sugar beyond the natural occurring sugars from the cereals. Birell contains less calories than regular beer and has isotonic properties, making it the perfect refreshment for those who like to be active.

Carlsberg said it has launched the beer in response to 90% growth in the alcohol-free beer category over the last 10 years.

“The alcohol-free category has seen huge growth in the last few years as consumers develop greater awareness of the food and drinks they purchase. As a result, more people are opting for alcohol-free drinks: but they don’t want their choices to be limited to water or soft drinks. They are seeking a wider range of relevant and great tasting refreshment choices.”

In FY2018 Carlsberg saw alcohol-free brew volumes in Western Europe grow 33%. It builds on growth in 2017, where it saw volumes in the category increase 15%.  

Referring to the SAIL 22 priorities, Heine Dalsgaard, chief financial officer, Carlsberg, said: “We are investing our money in Western Europe… in craft and specialty, [and] also in alcohol-free. We see a significant increase in alcohol-free across Western Europe and we are putting a lot of money behind that also going forward.

Carlsberg notes good growth for alcohol-free brews in Denmark, Norway (in particular Munkholm and the alcohol-free variant of 1664 Blanc and Somersby), France, Switzerland and Poland.

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