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Low and no alcohol beverages to get boost from dry January

Abigail Fenton
·3 min read
24 September 2019, Berlin: A bottle of 'Wonderleaf' (l-r), non-alcoholic 'Gin' of the German trade mark Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin, a bottle of 'Juniper Type' (juniper type) with the inscription 'This is not Gin' and a bottle of 'Italian Aperitif Type' with the inscription 'This is not Vermouth/kein Wermut' are on a shelf. Alcohol renunciation seems to be a trend. (to dpa-Korr "This is not gin": Alcohol renunciation without loss of taste?") Photo: Gregor Tholl/dpa (Photo by Gregor Tholl/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Some 6.5 million UK adults intend to take part in Dry January 2021. Photo: Gregor Tholl/picture alliance via Getty

Sales of “no- and low-” alcohol drinks have received a boost from Dry January, and now a record number of Brits plan to partake in the challenge in 2021.

Alcohol Change UK, which started the Dry January campaign in 2013, said it's polling shows 6.5 million UK adults intend to take part next month — nearly double the 3.9 million who participated in 2020.

This equates to nearly a fifth of people in the UK who typically drink alcohol, the charity's data shows.

The very first Dry January only attracted 4,000 people, but has expanded since partnering with Public Health England to focus on health and alcohol behaviour change.

As a result, the number of non-alcoholic “alternatives” to spirits, wines and beers has increased significantly over the past few years.

This year, beer spirits producer Diageo — which owns Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, and Baileys, among other brands — invested US-based non-alcoholic “spirits” firm Ritual Zero Proof, with whom it has launched alcohol-free versions of its popular Gordon's gin under the Seedlip brand.

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The beverage is already for sale in Tesco and on Amazon. It will be widely available in supermarkets from 3 January.

However, the company's alcohol-free Guinness stout alternative was recalled two weeks after its launch in November, due to “microbiological contamination.” The move was largely “precautionary,” the firm said.

Ritual Zero Proof already sells non-alcoholic gin, whiskey and tequila alternatives.

Meanwhile, many other brands, such as London-based Small Beer Brew, and Lucky Saint, offer selections of non-alcoholic beers, wines, ciders, lagers and spirits.

“The step change in product quality on offer is driving such huge interest in the no and low category,” Emma Heel, managing director of alcohol-free beer brand Lucky Saint, told the Guardian.

“We see dry January 2021 as a great opportunity for people to try these drinks to help them moderate their drinking and start the year in a positive way.”

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Interest in no- or low-alcohol drinks has peaked since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with nearly two in three (63%) UK adults trying these alternatives during 2020, according to research by regulatory alcohol body Portman Group.

What's more, a quarter of Brits even drink “nolo” alternatives regularly, the research found.

Sales of no- and low-alcohol drinks shot up 30% year-on-year in 2020, Nielsen Scantrack data shows.

“2020 has been a year like no other. Many of us have spent the year stressed, scared and tired,” Alcohol Change UK chief executive Dr Richard Piper, told the Guardian.

“When things get tough, we can find ourselves slipping into drinking habits we wish we could break, but Dry January can help.

“It’s our chance for a reset — 31 days to try something new, and to see some amazing benefits, like brighter skin, a fuller wallet, a calmer mind and a better night’s sleep.”

Watch: How My Life Changed for the Better When I Quit Drinking for a Month