Asahi Breweries launches low-alcohol alternative Beery

8 Mar 2021

Asahi Breweries launched a carbonated, low-alcohol drink as part of its endeavor to increase the sales of beverages with ABV volumes under 3.5%. The Japanese brewery is working to expand low-alcohol sales from 6% to 20% by 2025. The 0.5% ABV Beery beverage will first appear in Tokyo in March before the brewery rolls it out nationwide in June. There are no plans to export the beverage.

Japan residents will be able to purchase the low-alcohol beer in supermarkets, convenience stores and off-trade outlets where it is considered a carbonated beverage since its alcohol content slides under the 1% ABV threshold that is required to be considered alcohol in Japan.

Asahi Breweries launches low-alcohol alternative Beery
Courtesy of Asahi

Beery is not, however, Asahi’s first addition that has a lower alcohol content. In its portfolio, the brewery boasts several products that are below 3.5% ABV, including Slat, Cocktail Partner and Kajisunoshunkan Mikan.

The Japanese brewery is aiming not only to increase the number of brands it has in its portfolio to cater to sober-curious adults, but it is engaging in an initiative called Smart Drinking that will bring further clarity to consumers about their alcohol consumption. As part of the program, Asahi will begin publishing information about its main products by mid-2021, including the alcohol content per gram.

No- and low-alcohol products are becoming commonplace worldwide, especially for beer products, and major breweries are looking to gain a foothold with consumers buying into this trend. Last year marked the fourth year in a row that beer volume sales slipped, according to IWSR data. Simultaneously, the demand for non-alcoholic alternatives is rising with 66% of millennials saying they intended to reduce their alcohol consumption, according to a 2019 study by Nielsen.

Breweries have dived headfirst into campaigns to increase their no- and low-alcohol offerings in order to shore up their bottom lines, and the effort seems to be paying off with global brewers posting positive news attributed directly to zero- and minimal-alcohol offerings in 2020 earnings reports despite having been pummeled by foodservice closures during the pandemic.

Still, volumes in this evolving category pale in comparison to the volume sales for traditional beer. Nevertheless, the gap is expected to continue to narrow as time passes. Nonalcoholic beer sales growth is anticipated to triple between 1.5% and 2% by 2024, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation. And much of this growth is happening in Europe.

The now internationally-popular Dry January phenomenon began in the UK in 2013. Since then, being sober has gone from a one-month challenge to a lifestyle for many. In the United Kingdom, people consuming low alcohol or alcohol-free beer nearly doubled from 2016 to 2019. In Spain, low- and alcohol-free brews account for an estimated 13% of annual beer sales, according to the country's brewers association. Germany has seen a 10.9% increase in those imbibing with alcohol-free beer, according to Statista data. Overall, in Europe, a quarter of people say they prefer the taste of alcohol-free beer when compared to a traditional brew, Global Market Insights said.

Asia is experiencing a similar trend. From 2019 to 2025, Global Market Insights predicts that the low- to no-alcohol beverage market will grow 7% from $20 billion to $30 billion. A whopping 80% of this growth will come from the beer segment.

With such growth on the horizon, it’s no surprise that Asahi would invest its efforts into launching another brand to cater to consumers that are demanding alternatives to alcoholic beverages.

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