Article by Emily Hawkins, Reporter, MA editorial
While the number of people trying low-alcohol drinks is growing, customers say they still struggle finding teetotal options when drinking and dining out of home.
There is a disparity between demand and widespread availability of non-alcoholic options, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by alcohol watchdog the Portman Group.
Some 57% of adults said they would consider drinking a low-alcohol beverage at a pub but only 43% of people surveyed said they had seen any for sale in a pub.
The same percentage said they had seen low-alcohol options on sale at a bar yet a lower figure of 46% said they would potentially drink this type of drink there.
Pubs and bars fared better than restaurants and nightclubs though, with just 24% and 6% reporting they had spotted low and no-alcohol drinks on offer at these respective venues.
Some 13% of all adults do not recall seeing a low-alcohol option available for sale anywhere.
However, the survey results showed there was momentum in the low-and-no category, with more than half of alcohol drinkers (59%) having at least tried one low-alcohol product.
Almost one in 10 (9%) 18 to 24-year-olds said they had switched the majority of their drinking to lower alcohol options, with health issues across all age gaps influencing a reduction.
Portman Group chief executive John Timothy said that while producers were heavily investing in the category, more work needs to be done to support its growth.
He said: “It’s great to see the British public continuing to embrace low-alcohol products as a way to continue to drink responsibly and make healthy choices.
“Across all age groups, but especially younger adults, we are seeing people adopt low-alcohol alternatives to help moderate their alcohol intake or make responsible choices, such as being able to drive home.
“We believe in broader consumer choice and would like to see a low and no-alcohol option available in a wider range of outlets. The UK Government should also tackle the current array of confusing product descriptors to give greater clarity about what they are purchasing.”
The group wants to see the ‘alcohol-free’ threshold raised from 0.05% ABV to 0.5% ABV to bring the UK in line with other European countries.
It also wants a minimum strength of above 0.5% ABV introduced to the category of ‘low alcohol’, to go up to and include 1.2% ABV.
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