The landscape of the food and drinks sector has changed completely in the last few months. Some predictions of how we eat and drink have fallen off a cliff, while other trends have been accelerated and are rapidly becoming embedded in our future. Low and no-alcohol beverages are one segment that has not been adversely affected by the slowdown in hospitality.
When we think about the effects of lockdown, it’s the at-home happy hours and wine hoarding that gets visibility on social media. But the non-alcoholic drinks sector has, if anything, benefited from more conscious consumption as people make efforts to manage their stress loads during the pandemic.
Australian non-alcoholic beer company Heaps Normal, founded by four mates, has secured $1.3 million from investors, to capitalise on the growing no-alcohol beer market.
"Although it was a terrible situation — and for our industry and a lot of businesses in it, it was quite catastrophic — it was unexpectedly positive for us to launch in the middle of lockdown," co-founder Andy Miller told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Nobody was out in trade so it made it a lot easier to connect with customers around the country with limited resources.
"People started to realise that whatever the normal amount of alcohol was for them outside of lockdown affected them quite a bit more in lockdown — you don't have the social contact and you are stuck in the same four walls."
Australia has a well-established beer-drinking culture and even though it’s considered part of everyday Australian life, there is a growing trend, especially among younger drinkers, to reduce their alcohol consumption for a variety of reasons. The target customer for a non-alcoholic beer like Heaps Normal is not just the abstinent teetotaller, but the regular beer drinker who enjoys all the cultural add-ons of drinking beer (going to the pub, and having a beer while watching the game) but just wants to consume less alcohol.
"I do think as a baseline it is something that is new to the category, having a non-alcoholic beer that tastes good, and I’d say tastes as good as your favourite craft beer," said Miller. "The other thing is the brand, so it's coming back to connecting with beer drinkers in a way that doesn’t alienate them by choosing to have a night off."