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.