Heineken is the latest brewer to feel the benefits of investment in low and no-alcohol (LNA) beers, which have helped the Dutch giant register its best volume sales performance in a decade.

The Heineken brand overall grew volumes 7.7% in 2018, with CEO Jean-François van Boxmeer highlighting “the ongoing success” of Heineken 0.0, its no-alcohol variant which is now available in 38 countries and being rolled out to more this year, and Radler, a 2% ABV lager mixed with cloudy lemon.

Last week, Carlsberg told a similar story when it announced its Q4 results and reported that sales of alcohol-free brews had grown by 33% in Western Europe alone. The brewer anticipates this sub-category will continue to benefit from the growing health and wellness trend amongst consumers.

“We see a very significant increase in alcohol-free across Western Europe and we are putting a lot of money behind that also going forward,” said CFO Heine Dalsgaard.

Swiss bank UBS noted this trend when its survey of consumers in three European markets found a growing proportion of respondents “somewhat” or “very” likely to drink a low or non-alcoholic beer in the next 12 months (up from 30% in 2017 to 36% in 2018).

LNA beers are increasingly popular with women and younger people, UBS noted. And that analysis is borne out by recent research in the UK, where Red Brick Road found that three quarters of Gen Z respondents felt it important to be in control of their lives, while half were mindful of images being posted on social media after a night out.

The Portman Group, the industry-funded responsible drinking organisation, has surveyed attitudes towards LNA drinks specifically and discovered that nearly a quarter (24%) of British drinkers have either already switched some of their drinking to low-alcohol alternatives or would consider doing so in the next six months. The main reasons for doing so were being able to drive home from social events (32%) and to be social without drinking excessively (26%).

Portman Group CEO Jonathan Timothy observed “a cultural shift” in the relationship between young people and alcohol and called on the government to update the current system of labelling to unlock further growth in the sector.

Sourced from Seeking Alpha, Financial Times, just-drinks, Portman Group; additional content by WARC staff