I’m a skeptic when it comes to non-alcoholic craft beers, spirits, and wines. How big can this market get without the functional benefits of alcohol, especially when sold at about the same price?
I recently posed the question to Athletic Brewing Co-founder and CEO Bill Shufelt during a panel I moderated for Credit Suisse in New York. His non-alcoholic beer brand has raised more than $70 million since launching in 2018 and accounts for almost half of the still-small US non-alcoholic beer market. Shufelt told me that most of his consumers don’t shun alcohol. Sometimes they just need a break and they like beer. He sees lots of runway in that fact.
I also asked an informed 20-something for her view. She said non-alcoholic beer allows her to socialize and match the vibe of the party without sticking out. More importantly, she is willing to pay for that benefit.
In today’s issue, Ceria Brewing Co-founder Keith Villa, a renowned brewmaster, states without hesitation that non-alcoholic beer could one day be as big as craft beer, which accounts for 13% of the total US beer market. He also talks about the use of THC and CBD in some of his beers (fascinating conversation).
Meanwhile, 62% of Generation Z consumers and almost two-thirds of millennial consumers have recently begun buying low- or no-alcohol products, according to market researcher Reach3 Insights.
This shows there is momentum, to be sure. But being curious about low- and no-alcohol beverages is one thing. Enjoying and repeating a purchase is an entirely different matter. I’ve sampled enough mock booze now to know that formulating these drinks for taste is challenging. The good
news for consumers is that the inflow of investment improves the chances of flavor
When I add it all up, I remain skeptical, but my glass -- and mind -- are open.
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