By Alexandra Allan, The FoodBowl chief executive



Alcohol is deeply intertwined with our lives from having a beer with friends to having a glass of wine at dinner. However, in the last few years, alcohol sales have taken a dip in large part because millennials and Gen-Zers are drinking less, while the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that, worldwide, the rate of alcohol drinkers fell by nearly 5%. 

This has opened the floodgates to a plethora of brands in the non-alcohol category, from 0% beers, to mocktails and spirits such as Gin and Rum – the march lead by spirit brand ‘Seedlip’ globally and followed locally by Kiwi company Ecology & Co which was commercially scaled here at the FoodBowl in Auckland.   Most importantly, none of these beverages would look out of place behind the counter of a high-end bar or in a local liquor store.

The 2020 Cocktail Trends Report by spirits brand Bacardi found that lower alcohol content in drinks was the number 1 trend and Google searches for the term “mocktail” increased by 42% last year.  More global brands are paying attention too. Earlier in the year, Coca-Cola started testing its line of zero-booze spirits ‘Bar None’ in America in anticipation of this categories expected global growth.

Whether it’s super low-ABV beers or something ‘free of alcohol’ entirely, brands are trying to entice a mindful consumer who doesn’t need to get drunk every weekend. Customers seeking out booze-free offerings are often members of the sober community, women who are pregnant and still looking for a quality beverage, people who are health-conscious, and those who are enthusiasts who are seeking flavour and complexity in their drinks.

‘Dry July’ has grown year on year and gives people a taste of ‘being alcohol-free’ so much so that many stay ‘off the wagon’ and enjoy trying new up and coming non-alcoholic brands, such as ‘No Ugly,’ a successful Kiwi brand of alcohol-free tonics again launched with the help of FoodBowl facilities. Countdown has been early adopters of the category in New Zealand which is really promising for startups.

The opportunities for innovation in this category are endless and our technical expertise at the Food Innovation Network can give you a thorough understanding of the basics of beverage technology, from how to development a beverage through R&D, processing, packing, and commercialisation. With unique New Zealand flavours and Kiwi ‘know-how’ this category is an opportunity waiting to happen if you’re export ready.

Alexandra Allan is the chief executive for The FoodBowl – an open access facility operated by NZ Food Innovation Auckland and part of the NZ Food Innovation Network. She has experience in managing client projects as well as oversight on plant operations previously as the client solutions manager for The FoodBowl. Prior to that, Allan has held senior positions at Danone and Horley’s in product development.

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Hot Source, NZ Food Technology or the parent company, Hayley Media.