Zero alcohol in India: AB InBev to launch Budweiser and Hoegaarden non-alcoholic beers in the country

By Pearly Neo contact

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Global brewing giant AB InBev will be launching non-alcoholic beers in India across the next three months under two major brands: Budweiser and Hoegaarden. ©AB InBev
Global brewing giant AB InBev will be launching non-alcoholic beers in India across the next three months under two major brands: Budweiser and Hoegaarden. ©AB InBev

Related tags: India, Ab inbev, Budweiser, Hoegaarden

Global brewing giant AB InBev will be launching non-alcoholic beers in India across the next three months under two major brands: Budweiser and Hoegaarden.

Capitalising on the growing interest in the non-alcoholic beer category in Asia​, AB InBev looks to offer its consumers ‘choice’ when it comes to consumption in this category.

“The launch of non-alcoholic beers in India is in line with our global goal to offer low and non-alcoholic beverages to consumers [in line with] our Global Smart Drinking Goals,”​ AB InBev South Asia President Ben Verhaert told FoodNavigator-Asia.

“[One of these goals is] Empowering Consumers Through Choice, [and through this we aim] to ensure that No or Lower alcohol beer products make up at least 20% of our global beer volume by 2025.”

In 2018, 8% of AB InBev’s global beer volumes came from low and no-alcoholic beverages globally. Within this, Budweiser was identified as the ‘fastest growing premium brand’​ in India, whereas Hoegaarden is ‘one of the leading super premium brands’​ in the country.

“The launch of Budweiser 0.0 [and Hoegaarden 0.0] will further enable the [brands] to be inclusive, as many people today do not drink alcohol. [We want] to offer the great taste of beer that can be enjoyed across different occasions [when alcohol cannot be consumed],”​ added Verhaert.

The main difference in processing between the non-alcoholic beers and regular ones is in the de-alcoholisation process, but he added that AB InBev goes beyond just this to maintain flavour.

“[We] have also changed the brewing process a bit to avoid the acidity that would come from de-alcoholisation [so as to] create a more balanced taste of real beer (sic),”​ he said.

Budweiser 0.0 and Hoegaarden 0.0 will be launched over the next three months in what was described as ‘the top urban centres in the country’​, such as Mumbai and Delhi.

The non-alcoholic beers will also be sold in the prohibition state of Gujarat where the manufacture, storage, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages is illegal, and there is a death penalty in place for any person who has ‘manufactured, kept, sold or arranged for [spurious liquor]​’.

Zero-alcohol beers elsewhere

The Budweiser and Hoegaarden zero-alcohol beers are actually not AB InBev’s first non-alcoholic beers in the APAC region.

“We [also] launched Carlton Zero non-alcoholic beer in Australia last year for beer lovers who want more opportunities to enjoy beer responsibly,”​ said Verhaert.

“We [also] have non-alcoholic beers globally across our major markets – North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Budweiser 0.0 is already available in Canada and the United Kingdom.”

Competitor Heineken also launched its own version of non-alcoholic beer under its Low and Non Alcohol (LNA) category, the Heineken 0.0​ in Singapore earlier this year.

Heineken 0.0 and Bavaria 0.0% are currently also available in Thailand, where the government is examining the laws governing the zero-alcoholic beer category​.

Heineken 0.0 is made with normal beer ingredients (water, malted barley, hop extract) and brewed with Heineken’s unique A-yeast, but the alcohol is removed ‘gently’​ in a ‘natural process’​​.

“[Our] unique recipe [makes] for Heineken 0.0’s distinct balanced taste, and each 330ml bottle contains only 69 calories,”​ Andy Hewson, Managing Director of Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (APBS) told FoodNavigator-Asia​ previously. ​APBS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Heineken Group, and and operates its local brewery in Singapore.

AB InBev’s non-alcoholic beers will also have less calories as compared to the alcoholic versions.

“[The] calories in non-alcoholic beers will also be less than carbonated soft drinks. For example, Budweiser 0.0 will have 25.59 kcal/100ml, which is around 40% less than that of a carbonated soft drink,”​ added Verhaert.

With regard to NPD, he said that although AB Inbev’s main focus in the coming months will be centred on the two non-alcoholic beers, its innovation team would still be ‘working relentlessly’​ to develop products according to different market requirements.

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