The Portman Group is urging the government to do more to encourage the uptake of low- and no-alcohol alternatives, as the market is potentially showing signs of plateauing.
The consultation would seek views on updating the terminology around the various ways in which products below 1.2%ABV are marketed — a key source of confusion for UK consumers. After a delay of nearly two years, the Portman Group is calling on the government to prioritise the review in 2023.
The Portman Group, the alcohol social responsibility body and marketing regulator, warns not to let the positive trend lose momentum after years of growing UK sales and consumer interest in the category.
New YouGov consumer research reveals that more than a quarter (29%) of alcohol drinkers now also semi-regularly drink low- and no-alcohol alternatives, compared to almost a third (32%) in 2021 and a quarter (25%) in 2020.
For the fifth year in a row, the top reasons cited for drinking low and no alcohol are being able to drive home safely from social events, and taking part in social events without drinking to excess.
Furthermore, one in six (17%) of those who have tried low and no drinks say their alcohol consumption has reduced since first trying them, demonstrating their role in encouraging moderate and responsible drinking.
With new year resolutions here, those that plan to reduce alcohol consumption in 2023 said they will drink fewer alcoholic drinks at home (37%), have more alcohol-free days (30%), and a further quarter (25%) said they plan to stop drinking at home altogether.
Matt Lambert, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: “The variety and availability of low- and no-alcoholic drinks has never been stronger, reflecting a huge increase in consumer popularity.
“The vast majority of consumers already drink responsibly, within the chief medical officer guidelines, but it is particularly pleasing to see evidence that low and no options are playing a role in encouraging people to moderate their drinking.
“We are calling on the government to launch the low-alcohol descriptors consultation this year to give further support to the low- and no-alcohol sector. It has been expected for nearly two years, but given the turbulent political year this hasn’t been prioritised.
“This is an important review which should see alignment with global descriptors and give another push to this innovative category, which is an active substitute for alcohol and supports moderate drinking.”