31 Dec 2022

Rise of low-alcohol drinks not seen as threat to beverage sector

1:33 pm on 31 December 2022
A beer in ice.

More Kiwis are trying out low-alcohol drinks - mostly for health reasons. Photo: 123RF

An increasing number of New Zealanders are opening up to lower-alcohol drinks, according to a survey by the Alcohol Beverages Council.

The annual survey, which has been running for four years, aims to show how Kiwis perceive alcohol and related issues.

This years' results show 56 percent of respondents tried a low-alcohol drink in 2022, up 9 percent from the previous year.

Meanwhile 69 percent tried a premium drink such as spirits, wine or liqueur, up 13 percent from 2021. Among those, almost half said they would consume it more slowly.

Robert Brewer, deputy chairperson of the Alcohol Beverages Council, said the results show a potential positive shift towards more responsible drinking behaviour.

"Neither of these stats are surprising when you consider that, when choosing low-alcohol drinks, the most common reason to do so was health (40 percent), driving (28 percent) and to avoid intoxication (27 percent)."

He said both drinking higher strength alcohol more slowly, and drinking lower alcohol options are positive changes.

He said the "sipping and savouring" approach to drinking would help many have more control over their alcohol consumption.

Brewer said the alcohol and beverage industry is supportive of an improvement in the way people drink, and not in contradiction to the interests of the sector - which the council represents.

"I know that sometimes we get challenged by saying, 'Well actually how can that be? That means people are drinking less.'

"But that also means, from our perspective, if people are drinking more responsibly and the drinking culture fits the New Zealand culture, then we're going to be in business for a lot longer."

Brewer said he's observed a growing popularity of no-alcohol beer products through increased sales over the past decade.

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