BBPA research shows low & no-alcohol beer sales fizz up amid lockdown

Sales of low & no-alcohol beer appear to be rising, according to the British Beer & Pub Association, following research revealed by YouGov that 16% of Brits say they are drinking less or not at all during the Coronavirus lockdown.

To the 21st March, just as Boris Johnson announced the beginning of the UK’s lockdown, analysis by Nielsen found that low and no alcohol beer sales surged by 33% YoY for the previous four weeks.

Upon lockdown, further analysis by Nielsen found that to 11th April, low and no alcohol beer sales continued to grow by 14.8% for the previous 4 weeks.

One BBPA member, Lucky Saint – which brews an alcohol free 0.5% lager – has seen its online sales alone increase by 300% since the lock down.

Low and no-alcohol beer has been booming in the UK. From 2013 to 2018, the category grew by 232%. 96% of low and no beer is lager, but ale options have been emerging in the market with growth of 69% between 2017 and 2018 and 164% between 2016 and 2017.

During Dry January 2020, the BBPA believes as many as 4.8 million pints of low and no alcohol beer were sold across the month.

The increase in sales of low and no alcohol beer during the last few years follow a huge amount of investment and innovation in low and no alcoholic beers by UK brewers, which has helped to drive growth according to the BBPA.

During the Coronavirus lockdown, research from Nielsen has suggested that 39% of UK shoppers aim to prepare healthy and well balanced meals currently. 26% are currently trying to prepare light or low calorie meals too. This trend of shoppers becoming more health conscious during COVID-19 correlates with growing low and no beer sales according to the BBPA.

However, despite the growth in low and no alcohol beer sales during the COVID-19 crisis, and growing retail sales of the overall alcohol category, the BBPA has been very quick to reiterate that these are no way near enough to offset the lockdown of pubs and fall of beer sales from it. Particularly as 7 in 10 alcoholic drinks sold in pubs are beer.

All 47,000 of the UKs pubs are closed due to the lockdown, meaning 70% of the UK’s beer market by value has gone overnight. The BBPA is therefore continuing to press Government for specific pub support, to see them through the crisis and when possible enable them to re-open and serve their communities once more.

Emma McClarkin, BBPA's Chief Executive, said, “The boom in the popularity of low and no beer is very encouraging and clearly providing people with a good alternative to an alcoholic pint in the pub during this period of lockdown.

“A lot of innovation has gone into making great tasting low and no alcohol beer so with a bigger range of low and no-alcohol beers than ever before, I encourage beer drinkers to give them a go!”