L2N Sep 20 green nd

Guess who’s back? Guinness has returned to the low & no sector a year after its launch was hastily cancelled due to the presence of mould in some cans, and the drink recalled.

In terms of setbacks, it was about as dramatic as they come in fmcg, sparking an internal investigation into how such an issue could have arisen. Now it’s fixed and the drink is ready to roll out again, Diageo having introduced a slew of “additional quality assurance measures”, according to head of Guinness GB, Neil Shah.

It may not have as easy a ride into shoppers hearts this time around as it would have the first time around had the recall never happened, though. No matter how many assurances you give, a “microbiological contamination” in a drink is never going to sound good. And the recall was a big, big story.

There’s also the matter of timing. The first time around, Guinness 0.0 would have landed on shelves just ahead of Dry January, giving it an instant boost.

That’s not to say September is a bad time to launch a non-alcoholic drink. There will be no shortage of non-drinkers looking for exciting new options as autumn party season kicks off. And of course there’s the far less widespread ‘Sober October’. But it will not benefit from the immediate surge of attention that non-alcoholic drinks are given by retailers and shoppers alike for the first month of the year.

Still, Diageo’s track record in non-alcoholic is superb. Both booze-free versions of Gordon’s and Tanqueray have performed well since launch. And with a marketing budget the size of Diageo’s, it will certainly be difficult to miss the news of Guinness 0.0’s second coming.

In other news, pictures surfaced last week of new fixtures in one of Tesco’s London stores separating low and non-alcoholic drinks into their own dedicated sections. Many suppliers have long been seeking such clarity on the shop floor. If Tesco begins a greater move towards segmenting the two, it could signal the beginning of a wider shift in how supermarkets approach low & no.

So what’s in this newsletter?

First, The Grocer takes a look at the relaunch of Guinness 0.0 and other NPD hitting shelves and bars as we approach autumn. Then Beverage Daily takes a critical look at some issues potentially impacting category growth.

Low2NoBev 2022 will take place on 8-9 June at the Old Truman Brewery in London. For more information on the show, visit www.low2nobev.com

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