Do you dream of an alcohol-free Christmas? Join the (soda) club | Alcohol

The concept of a Christmas without champagne, wine or whiskey is counter-intuitive to many. But this holiday season, a growing number of Britons are avoiding alcohol and preparing for a party all – or at least partially -, according to retailers.

Sales in the alcohol-free and low-alcohol category, also known as ‘NoLo’, are expected to increase by 17% in the UK this year, according to IWSR’s beverage market analysis, and will reach nearly 19 million cases and a value of $ 741 million. (£ 558million). Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco all report that sales of NoLo drinks have seen huge year-over-year increases, a trend they plan to continue as Christmas approaches, amid an increase. of “conscious consumption”.

Low-alcohol wine, cider, and beer have all seen their popularity rise, but the biggest increase has been in non-alcoholic spirits. Tesco, which expects around a quarter of UK adults to drink only non-alcoholic or low-alcohol drinks this Christmas, said sales of NoLo spirits have climbed 106% since the start of the year. ‘year ; Sainsbury’s said it recorded a 91% year-over-year increase.

Nichola Joyce, a non-alcoholic, low-alcohol buyer at Waitrose, where sales across the category were up 24% from last year, said she expects the trend continues. “Especially during the holiday season as people are looking for ways to adopt moderation and a flexitarian approach to their drink choices.”

Laura Willoughby, founder of the conscious drinking community Club Soda, said the shift to non-alcoholic beverages is driven by the availability of a wide variety of options, improved taste and improved drinking habits. abstinence or, in most cases, more moderation. .

“We don’t say anymore [of a no-alcohol drink] “It tastes really horrible – I’d rather have a soda,” she said. “They’re now going to say ‘it’s actually a really good non-alcoholic beer’ or ‘this is a really good bottle of kombucha champagne for adults.’

“The producers focused on how it looks, tastes and creates what feels like a moment of adult drinking. “

Non-alcoholic drinks at the Club Soda Conscious Consumption Festival.

She believes that this Christmas, many people are considering reducing their alcohol consumption because they want to “be present” with their friends and family in the midst of the pandemic and because it is important to protect their mental health ” at a time of year that we all know can be a little stressful and we are often upset at a time that is supposed to be fun and enjoyable ”.

She added, “People are going, ‘Well, maybe if I drink a little less I can spend the time I want and not get into an argument. I will be much calmer, much more relaxed, and much happier.

When Willoughby started Club Soda in 2015 as a Facebook group, she felt, she says, “like a lonely voice,” but now she’s seeing an “intergenerational change that I think has pushed this market stronger and bigger. faster in the UK than it has been in other parts of the world ”.

Later this month, it is launching what is believed to be the UK’s first alcohol-free license in central London. The pop-up store will feature more than 60 brands, including Lucky Saint and Adnams Everleaf aperitifs and non-alcoholic beers, and will host classes on cocktails, wine and beer.

Russell Kirkham, director of customer marketing for liquor company Quintessential Brands, whose products include Bloom’s alcohol-free gin and tonic, said the category has been a “hotbed of innovation” in recent years, but beer is. remained the most popular with buyers, which means it still has huge growth potential in other areas.

“While health and wellness are important to these consumers, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to socialize – they just want to socialize without drinking alcohol on occasion, or at least drinking less alcohol. during socialization. “

A UCL 2018 study, who analyzed thousands of young people aged 16 to 24 over 10 years, found that an increasing number of young people did not drink alcohol at all and reported a significant decrease in the number of young people who drank above recommended limits or had binge eating.

“Our research found that this trend was noticeable in younger and not older adults, representing a generational change in drinking patterns,” said lead author of the study Dr. Linda. Ng Fat. “The trend was widespread among young adults, occurring across all social and demographic groups, suggesting that the change is cultural and that drinking alcohol may be a less popular activity than for older generations.”

But she added that the rise in popularity of alcohol-free and low-alcohol products could be a sign that attitudes of young people are becoming mainstream.

However, she warned that there is evidence to suggest that harmful drinking may have increased during the pandemic, amid an increase in alcohol-related liver disease and deaths among those seeking treatment for drug abuse. ‘alcohol.

“Therefore, a trend towards alcohol-free or low-alcohol consumption, especially for these risk groups, is to be welcomed. “

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