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Third of Brits admit to cutting down on alcohol

Stocking a wider range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks could be a smart move for licensees as new research finds as many as a third of Brits have limited or reduced their alcohol consumption at some point in the last year.

A recent Mintel survey revealed 32% of all Brits have reduced or limited their alcohol intake over the past 12 months, with over two in four (44%) admitting they have done so to save money.

Pubs and bars are proving popular venues for low alcohol brands, as a night out (26%) and a casual drink at the pub (22%) are when low-alcohol drinks most appeal to consumers if they are limiting or reducing their alcohol intake.

Those most likely to reduce their alcohol consumption are aged 25-34 (35%) and 35-44 (36%).

Half (51%) of the nation’s beer, wine and cider drinkers say they are drinking less alcohol than a few years ago.

Improving personal health (39%) is also a notable trigger for cutting down and a further 30% have cut-back to reduce the risk of disease, while 41% have done so to lose or avoid gaining weight.

Additionally, some 14% of all those who have cut back on alcohol have done so because they are worried about becoming dependent on alcohol and the same proportion (14%) have cut back to stay within current NHS and government guidelines.

What it means for the licensed trade

The fact that Brits are reducing the amount of alcohol they drink presents a significant opportunity for low-alcohol and alcohol-free beers, ciders and wines.

Today, lower-alcohol beer, cider or wine is drunk by around one quarter (23%) of alcohol drinkers, while overall, just 14% of Brits drink non-alcoholic or alcohol-free beer, cider or wine. Usage of lower-alcohol drinks is higher among men (26%) and significantly above average for 18-34-year-olds (41%).

Pubs and bars are proving popular venues for low alcohol brands, as a night out (26%) and a casual drink at the pub (22%) are when low-alcohol drinks most appeal to consumers if they are limiting or reducing their alcohol intake.

A taste more like standard-strength equivalents would sway nearly three in 10 drinkers (28%) to consume low-alcohol or alcohol-free versions of alcoholic drinks.

But overall, soft drinks are more popular than low-alcohol, alcohol-free versions of alcoholic drinks for all occasions.

For current alcohol drinkers, 41% say that if they were limiting the amount of alcohol they were drinking when having a casual drink at the pub then they’d pick a soft drink, compared to 29% who would pick a low-alcohol or non-alcoholic version of an alcoholic drink.

Richard Caines, Senior Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel, said, “Replicating the taste of standard-strength alcoholic drinks and changing perceptions remains a key challenge for low-alcohol and alcohol-free manufacturers.

“Alcohol-free versions of alcoholic drink brands also need to look at the reasons why consumers are limiting or reducing their alcohol intake in order to increase their appeal as an alternative to standard-strength alcoholic drinks.

“This includes offering bigger savings to those looking to save money, as well as prominently highlighting lower calorie content compared to standard-strength equivalents to those looking to better manage their weight and improve their health.”

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