Seedlip: non-alcoholic category must ‘weed out copycats, cheats’

27th November, 2019 by Melita Kiely

As the popularity of non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ grows, the founder of Seedlip has warned the category must “weed out the copycats, the cheats” to guarantee quality and consistency across the board.

Seedlip

Ben Branson, Seedlip founder

Speaking to The Spirits Business this month, Ben Branson, founder of non-alcoholic distilled ‘spirits’ brand Seedlip, stressed the necessity of having a category “built on credibility, quality and the best possible first experience”.

Seedlip launched three-and-a-half years ago as the ‘first’ non-alcoholic distilled ‘spirit’ brand. It expanded this year with the launch of what is thought to be the first non-alcoholic apéritif brand, Aecorn.

Branson said: “In the last 12 months there has been an explosion in interest, activity, launches all over the world, and the ecosystem of the category has now begun to form with events, books, communities, influencers, own-brand products, retailers, menus, podcasts and even celebrities all now part of its make up.

“Exciting, definitely. But – and there is a big but – we must have a category built on credibility, quality and the best possible first experience.

“Sadly, this isn’t currently the case, and that isn’t about competition, it’s about the health and sustainability of the space and movement, and it means consistency is required in everything from regulation to language, to merchandising to education.

“We need to weed out the copycats, the cheats and those just jumping on the wagon. That means those seeking quality and doing things properly, like Everleaf, Three Spirit, Lucky Saint, Big Drop, Real, Caleño, can all pull together.”

Looking ahead to 2020, Branson predicts there will be a greater acceptance of non-alcoholic options and “more normalisation in the on-trade” of consumers not drinking alcohol when they’re out.

Our launch of a ready-to-drink Nogroni is an important step in educating people at home just what’s possible when they’re out and can get a proper adult cocktail that doesn’t contain alcohol,” Branson said.

However, he does also anticipate “more rubbish introduced, sadly” next year, “from people trying to imitate niche categories like absinthe and Port, to consumers becoming promiscuous brand wise because of so much choice, and confused because of so much inconsistency”.

In August this year, Diageo increased its shareholding in Seedlip to a majority stake, with plans to grow the brand into a “global drinks giant of the future”.

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