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September 12, 2023
Non-alcoholic beverages are no longer relegated to sugary artificial sippers: Wellness-oriented consumers can access far more diverse and sophisticated nonalcoholic beverages through a range of retail and foodservice outlets. Whether they’re going totally dry or opting for the more moderate “damp” approach, consumers everywhere (especially sober-curious Gen-Zers) are seeking delicious drinks that promote a healthier, more present lifestyle.
The options available to support this cultural shift have become so prolific that serial entrepreneur Marcos Salazar launched the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association (ANBA) to educate about the nonalcoholic beverage ecosystem and grow it responsibly. “This category is growing rapidly, but there needed to be some infrastructure in bringing all the different stakeholders together,” Salazar said in an interview with New Hope’s The Natural List podcast. Take one look at the association’s membership, and it’s clear that ANBA is elevating some of the most innovative beverage brands in the retail and foodservice market today.
While retailers and restaurants still have differing definitions of NA beverages, ANBA is striving to create a common lexicon. It also aims to build a category centered around companies that make adult nonalcoholic beers, wines, spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails, as opposed to functional beverages or other inherently NA drinks that could be marketed to kids, such as natural sodas or juices.
At the ANBA Pavilion at Natural Products Expo East, buyers can discover sophisticated NA companies. Mingle, for example, offers booze-free, low-sugar canned and bottled cosmos, mimosas, margs and bellinis, while Sovi and Noughty focus on chic NA wine options (Sovi even offers a small Reserve line).
Consumers are responding positively, with NA beer experiencing 17% growth year over year, NA wine 25% and NA spirits an impressive 62%, according to SPINS data for the 52 weeks ending on January 9, 2023. Meanwhile, the lone NA option of years past, the oft-sugary ginger beer, saw a 6% decrease in sales during that same time period.
The options are diverse, though the best of them have an important commonality: They remove any notion of deprivation and instead focus on celebration. Down the road, Salazar predicts an NA takeover—from ballparks to rafting trips and, of course, at retailers and restaurants across the world. Cheers to that!
The alcohol-free space has undergone tremendous innovation the past few years, with everything from NA gin to beer and wine landing on retail shelves. Abstinence Spirits adds its new Lemon Aperitivo Spritz to the party. This carbonated ready-to-drink beverage is electric with citrus flavors, black currant and other botanicals, plus quinine for a novel zip.
A mocktail in a tea bag? It’s now a thing—and a good one. Sayso’s founders figured out how to combine ingredients and flavors central to many cocktails, such as the old fashioned, the Moscow mule and the margarita, in tea bags. All it takes is about three minutes of brewing in cold water, and voilà—the perfect drink (with or without the booze).
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