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British drinkers embracing low-alcohol alternatives

Almost a quarter of British drinkers have embraced low-alcohol alternatives, a first-of-its-kind survey commissioned by the Portman Group has found.

Low- and no-alcohol brands such as Seedlip are gaining traction in the UK

The survey revealed that 24% of British imbibers have either already some of their choice beverages for low-alcohol alternatives or would consider doing so in the next six months.

It showed that 7% of those surveyed have already switched some of their alcohol consumption to low- or no-alcohol alternatives, while a further 18% are likely to consider doing so in the near future.

Conducted by YouGov, the poll is thought to be one of the first surveys into attitudes towards low-alcohol beverages.

It also revealed that the switch is being led by so-called ‘generation sensible’, with 9% of those aged between 18-24 having already embraced low-alcohol alternatives and 24% of those between 18-34 being the most likely to consider switching.

Nearly a third of those surveyed said being able to drive home from events was their main reason for opting for low-alcohol beverages, while over a quarter said socialising without drinking excessively was the key factor, and 13% said they would drink lower alcohol beverages to stay within health guidelines.

“These findings are a reflection of the positive trends we are seeing when it comes to declining binge drinking levels and the cultural shift that is happening in the relationship between young people and alcohol,” said John Timothy, chief executive of the Portman Group.

A number of producers are investing in no- and low-alcohol alternatives. Diageo acquired a stake in alcohol-free ‘spirit’ Seedlip through its Distill Ventures unit, while Pernod Ricard UK entered into an agreement to distribute Ceder’s. A number of other alcohol-free ‘spirits’ have launched in recent months.

“Given the importance of this sector to helping people make healthy choices about their drinking, more needs to be done to support its growth,” continued Timothy. “Getting rid of confusing descriptors would support consumers and help lead to the development of more products.”

The Portman Group has urged the government to provide “clarity and consistency” with regards to descriptions for low- and no-alcohol products.

However, in November, the Department of Health and Social Care announced that there will be no changes to low- and no-alcohol descriptors, which the Portman Group has called a “missed opportunity”.

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