NZ Start up announces major player distribution wins in US alcohol-free market


“Since launching in the US just one year ago with Sprouts and Amazon as early retailers, our growth has been phenomenal. We are incredibly proud of what’s been achieved in terms of brand awareness, sales and distribution,” says AF founder, Lisa King.

Just 12 months after launching in the US market, AF is “set to disrupt” the alcohol-free drinks market further, announcing two major distribution wins with American retail giants Target and Walmart.

In a strategic move, AF’s innovative product range will be introduced to mainstream US consumers through a nationwide rollout, which started last month in Target and expanding to Walmart stores.

“Partnerships with major retailers like Target and Walmart will help play a critical role in introducing AF to new customers and fostering positive conversations about drinking less and normalising AF choices across the wider consumer landscape,” adds King.

“Achieving distribution with such well-known retailers marks a huge milestone for AF, one that was unimaginable when the brand first launched in New Zealand four years ago, says King.

“It signifies a pivotal moment as the category transitions from niche to mainstream and highlights the growing acceptance of the alcohol-free movement.”

According to industry insights, the alcohol-free drinks category is experiencing significant growth as consumer mindsets shift:

  • The global no/low alcohol category is now valued at $13 billion, presenting a growth of 5% over the previous year.
  • A fifth of all no-alcohol consumers in 2023 were newcomers to the category.
  • Some 94% of no-alcohol buyers also purchased alcoholic beverages on the same occasion.

“These trends are further mirrored across our company’s performance in both New Zealand and the US,” says King.

In New Zealand, AF has now established what the company describes as a 40% market share with Pernod Ricard has now become the exclusive distributor for AF locally, highlighting the in growing demand from consumers and on-premise outlets

King says AF is forecasting to triple its revenue in the next 12 months.

“With such rapid growth taking place across the category, major retailers and alcohol industry operators are recognising the potential of this expanding market and are eager to capture a share of the rising demand for alcohol-free options. And it’s great to see the shift in their support,” says King.

Kiri Hyde, commercial director at Pernod Ricard New Zealand, says: “Pernod Ricard already has a successful portfolio of premium spirit based RTDs from our global icons such as Jameson and Malibu in New Zealand and we are excited to add AF Drinks to our portfolio.

“We are committed to serving our consumers’ needs, offering premium experiences across wine, spirits, and RTDs, including low and no alcohol. Therefore, whether it’s New Zealanders who drink alcohol and want to alternate with non-alcoholic options, or those who do not drink alcohol but are looking for a diversified drinks experience, AF Drinks allows us to offer appealing alcohol-free cocktails that adults can enjoy without compromising on quality.

“In terms of demand, the ready-to-drink (RTD) and alcohol-free categories continue to accelerate, with the non-alcoholic spirits category alone growing by 115% in value globally over the past five years.”

King says, “As we continue our expansion journey and collaborate with key players like Target and Walmart, we are excited about the future of the alcohol-free movement globally. But for now, our fundamental goal remains to make choosing not to drink ‘cool AF’.”

AF’s US product line comprises five sophisticated ready-to-serve classic cocktails and a sparkling rosé. AF’s products are distinguished by Afterglow, a unique botanical heat extract from New Zealand, which replicates the warming sensation of alcohol without the effects.

AF’s award-winning alcohol-free drinks are crafted from 100% natural ingredients and are designed to be low in sugar and calories. Additionally, all AF products are vegetarian and gluten-free.