Non-alcoholic drinks make a remarkable breakthrough on the French market

1:25 p.m., March 2, 2022

Difficult evenings and foggy awakenings may soon be a distant memory. Star guests on cocktail bar menus, installed on supermarket shelves and, above all, already in the cupboards and fridges of millions of French people, low-alcohol drinks are making a remarkable breakthrough. At the global level, this Nolo market – for “no-alcohol” and “low-alcohol”– was recently estimated by UK panelist IWSR at around €10 billion a year. In France, one household in four has bought a drink of this type in beer, wine, gin or aperitif version during the last twelve months. Their share is still submerged in the world spirits market.

But their growth prospects are turning heads. “Sales are set to increase by around 50% per year” , assures Simon de Beauregard, international marketing director of Pernod Ricard. Volumes have already taken off strongly in the United States, which absorbs 50% of the market, in particular thanks to Internet sales. In Australia, the United Kingdom and even in Spain, countries among the biggest consumers of spirits, the trend has taken hold.

The “mocktail”, the short name given to the non-alcoholic cocktail, is not a substitute drink. It is aimed at all those who have given up alcohol for reasons of health, lifestyle, religion. For others, when the alcohol level is already high, the mocktail can advantageously replace the famous last drink which sometimes makes the road home very difficult.

new consumers

All the major world spirits companies, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi-Martini, have not escaped this vast reservoir of new consumers. They are already flooding the market with expensive and sophisticated products that are synonymous with high value. More than 280 brands are listed with a predominance of gin, whose production and aromatic compositions are particularly suited to alcohol-free. Among them, the pioneer Seedlip, created in 2014 and acquired five years later by Diageo. The Australian group Lyre’s has launched no less than 14 references. Ceder’s, created by two former executives of Pernod Ricard, was bought by the French group last year.

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Martini has also entered this segment in 2020 with several zero degree vermouths. “It’s a real success. says Marine Rozenfeld, development and innovation manager for Bacardi in Western Europe. She is brand no.1 in Europe by volume in its category. » Finally, the rum giant launched Palette in January, a range of two products used to create unique cocktails.

The growth of the sector has also generated vocations among young entrepreneurs. This is the case of the French Osco, created last June, around a “alcohol-free aperitif but with a real length in the mouth that can be sipped like a glass of alcohol”,judges its co-founder, Laura Falque. The drink last week won the award for best non-alcoholic spirits from trade magazine V&S News.

The French who have not yet tried it could soon adopt it. “We are seeing a real change among consumers, looking for more well-being, especially since the health crisis” , confirms Marine Rozenfeld. According to Public Health France, during the first confinement in 2020, nearly a quarter of French people reduced their alcohol consumption.

This habit continued post-lockdown, especially among the younger generations. “They are naturally more open to novelty, says Jean-Philippe Braud, founder of the Gueule de Joie site, which lists more than 200 alcohol-free products. They consume less than previous generations. But the typical profile remains 30-somethings who are used to drinking, and who want to limit their consumption at some point because they have more responsibilities. »With 150,000 bottles sold in 2021, the entrepreneur is confident about the future of the market: “The prospects are huge. »

Wine is also caught up in the reduction of the alcohol content

The wine is also overtaken by the reduction in the alcohol content. The Grassa family, owner of Domaine Tariquet, which produces 9 million bottles a year and exports 40%, offers several cuvées around 10 degrees. They are adapted to certain markets such as Scandinavia. Low alcohol is not only appreciated for its virtues in terms of healthy living. Import taxes are aligned with alcoholic degrees. “Making lighter wines makes it possible to offer more affordable prices” recognizes Rémy Grassa, co-director of the Gers area with his brother Armin.

For Maggie Taittinger and her partner, supermodel Constance Jablonski, the pressure of yearning for more naturalness is undeniable. The two friends from New York have experienced the frustration of not being able to participate in celebrations or other moments of conviviality, one pregnant with twins, the other while trying to reduce her consumption. To “keep the social bond”, they imagined French Bloom, a natural alcohol-free sparkling wine offered in two versions, white and rosé. Two years of research and development have resulted in a 100% organic small bubble grape juice with no preservatives or added sugar.

“It’s a new category of products for which we had no technical reference,” says Maggie Taittinger. We are not talking about terroir or grape variety; we have another story to tell. »The commercial reception reserved for French Bloom seems to indicate that the bet has been successful. Nearly 30,000 bottles were sold between the launch in October and the end of 2021. From the Grande Épicerie in Paris to the Selfridges stores in London, the French sparkling wine has made a successful entry. Several hotel chains also already offer it on their menu. The Middle East and the United States are next on Maggie Taittinger’s list.

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