2024 Sustainability Report Now Available

Low and No-Alcoholic Sales are Booming, But Does the Packaging Support Consumer Demand?

Kelsey Lambers
 | Content Strategist, O-I Glass

Low and alcohol-free wines, beer and spirits have gained popularity, and research shows this isn’t a short-term trend – more consumers are reevaluating their relationship with alcohol and are switching to better-for-you options. 

The Demand for Alcohol-Free Beer, Wine and Spirits 

Younger generations – millennials and Gen Z – are drinking less alcohol overall and are looking for a “better for you” option, according to a study from BevAlc Insights, IWSR

Low and non-alcohol sales are booming and are expected to continue growing. 

By the numbers: 

  • The volume of no- or low- alcohol beverages grew by 31% year-over-year in 2021.* 
  • The no- and low-alcohol spirits category is expected to grow by over 5% per year from 2021 to 2016.* 
  • The non-alcohol market currently accounts for over $414 million in sales.* 
  • No alcohol spirits grew at a rate of 38% when compared to 2020 and have showed steady growth from 2017-2021.* 
  • During the forecasted period of 2021-2026, non-alcoholic spirits are expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.4%, the highest of all spirit categories.* 
  • From 2022-2026, low-alcohol sparkling wine is expected to grow at a rate of +4.7, low-alcohol still wine at +20.9%, no-alcohol sparkling wine at +7.8% and no-alcohol still wine at +10.9%.* 
  • The non-alcoholic beer category grew 31.7% from 2020 to 2021, according to NielsenIQ** 
  • Non/Low Alcohol Beer is forecasted to grow at +2.6% CAGR** 

Source: *IWSR (Volume Liters ‘000) BevAlc Insights, 5 YR CAGR: 2022F-2026F (2021 Base) 

* *Euromonitor, HopCulture (link to article here), 5YR CAGR: 2022F-2026F (2021 Base) 

“Sober Curious” Consumers Don’t Want to Compromise  

When consumers are reaching for a low or non-alcoholic option, they don’t want to feel like they’re compromising, whether that’s in taste or experience.  

“Just because someone isn’t indulging in alcohol (for whatever reason that might be), doesn’t mean they don’t deserve something celebratory and fun,” said Thomas Mizuno-Moore, the senior beverage manager of Aba in Austin, Texas, and Miami, in a Huffington Post article

Whether staying in or dining out, consumers still want to socialize without the buzz. 

Restaurants and bars are adding mocktails and non-alcoholic options to their menus. “Sober bars” are popping up around the U.S. where customers can sit and socialize while drinking craft mocktails. 

Everything customers can order at The BANDBOX in Orlando, Florida is non-alcoholic – it’s a cocktail bar offering non-alcoholic alternatives to classic alcoholic beverages. 

“These are sophisticated, adult cocktails that you’re getting in a lounge setting,” Kevin Zepf, owner of The BANDBOX told MyNews13. “We want to give you an alternative, an alternative option to another drink, and be surrounded by other non-drinkers in the same environment.” 

Brands Answer with New Non-Alcoholic Beers, Wines 

Brands are getting on board and meeting the growing demand from consumers. 

In 2019, U.S. brewery Lagunitas launched Hop, a sparkling refreshment which is positioned as an IPA-inspired hoppy refresher rather than as an alcohol-free beer. Even more recently, Lagunitas rolled out IPNA for beer lovers who crave all the beloved hops without alcohol. 

Heineken launched Heineken 0.0., and in 2019, Heineken CEO Jean-François van Boxmeer said in an earnings report that “the ongoing success of Heineken (HEINY) 0.0” helped deliver the strongest growth by volume to the Heineken (HEINY) brand in over a decade, according to a CNN Business article

“The beer market is extremely crowded,” said Caleb Bryant, senior beverage analyst for Mintel in an article with CNN Business. “If you can carve out that niche by having a non-alcoholic option, it gives you a leg up.” 

And it’s not just beer – there’s John Ross with their “zero alcohol, zero sugar, zero guilt” virgin distilled botanicals, Fre Alcohol-Removed Wine, or Le Petit Chavin Merlot – all brands that launched new alcohol-free options in 2022 – and all in glass. 

Glass Packaging – the Best Option for Health 

As consumers reach for low and no-alcohol options, glass packaging also meets their demand for health. 

Consumers are choosing health over all else. In early 2022, 66% of global consumers were always or often influenced by how a product or service impacts their health and wellbeing. Consumers were influenced less by other factors, such as how familiar the product is or how the product aligns with time and money constraints. *** 

Glass is made from just four simple ingredients – sand, limestone, soda ash and recycled glass. And unlike other packaging materials, there’s no concern for harmful chemicals to leach into the drink inside, as it’s non-porous and chemical free. 

*** GlobalData 2022 Q2 global consumer survey 

Glass Packaging is the Answer for Low and No-Alcohol Options 

The majority of brands launching in this category know glass is the best option – of the new non-alcoholic beverages launched in 2021 and 2022, more than 60% were launched in glass.  

Not only is glass the best packaging material for health, it’s also the kindest packaging material for the planet. Glass is 100% recyclable, meaning a recycled glass container can become new glass over and over again – a fact that’s important to sustainability-conscious Gen Z consumers. 

“Consumers expect businesses to be more visible, active and transparent. They are choosing to boycott brands that do not mirror their values and instead, are switching to those that are taking a stand on environment and social issues,” according to the Passport article. 

As demand grows for alcohol-free options, there’s one packaging material that meets the demand for health, sustainability and premiumization that consumers want and will also set these beverages apart from other offerings – glass. 

Kelsey Lambers
Kelsey Lambers
Content Strategist, O-I Glass
Kelsey Lambers is a writer and digital content strategist with a background in covering news for newspapers, broadcast, radio, digital and social platforms. She’s a lover of cooking, traveling, discovering new breweries and playing with her two boys.
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.