As the sizzling summer heat arrives, you’ll see more people spending time outdoors enjoying drinks on patios, at the cottage, or at barbecues.
However, what they’re drinking has changed, as demand for alcohol continues to fall – especially among Zoomers and Millennials. Whether consumers want to watch their weight or have fun without regrets, more of them are sipping alcohol-free beer and wine.
A global study recently found alcohol consumption has declined as more adults around the world choose to either abstain or drink alcohol-free beverages as safer alternatives. In Canada, a recent survey by Hill Street Beverage Company found 41% of Canadians have abstained or considered abstaining from alcohol. Sales of alcohol-free beer jumped by 27% in 2017, making it the fastest-growing trend in the drinks market.
This trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Experts predict the global market for alcohol-free beer and wine will earn an impressive compound annual growth rate of 7.6% within the next five years.
Why sober is sexy
Let’s look at five factors fueling this drinks trend, which will make you thirsty for alcohol-free drinks, too.
1. Alcohol’s sobering health risks
Despite its status as a legal substance, alcohol can be hazardous to the body and the brain. A global report found that even one drink a day can be deadly and it links alcohol consumption to several cancers. Another study found an average of more than 400 Canadians are hospitalized per day for health conditions and alcohol contributes to more than half of these hospital stays. Researchers also link alcohol consumption to mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Zoomers seem to face a greater risk, as evidenced by the fact that the number of people over age 50 treated for alcohol abuse quadrupled in the last decade. Zoomers also have a greater chance of being diagnosed with conditions like dementia, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
These serious health risks have inspired many Zoomers to put down the booze or at least reduce their alcohol consumption. Studies show taking even a short break from alcohol can produce health benefits like lower blood pressure and cholesterol, better sleep, and improved memory and mental health.
2. Sip yourself slinky
Since it’s swimsuit season, here’s the skinny on booze: drinking your calories by consuming alcoholic beverages can sabotage your weight loss goals.
At seven calories per gram, alcohol contains nearly twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein, and they’re empty calories because your body burns alcohol before it burns fat. Alcohol is also an appetite stimulant, so it increases our appetite, decreases our blood sugar, and makes us feel less full. What’s worse, alcohol can make your body burn 36% less fat, store more of the fat you eat, and suppress hormones that burn fat and build muscle. As a result, we’re more likely to give in to saucy temptresses: unhealthy fats and sugar. All of these biological processes and food choices can lead to weight gain.
By contrast, alcohol-free beer and wine contain far fewer calories than their boozy counterparts: 60-80% fewer, in fact. Research even shows that alcohol-free beer can help you lose weight, which is welcome news for anyone wanting abs of steel rather than a bloated beer gut. So sipping alcohol-free beverages can help you stay svelte and beach-ready.
3. Fuel your fitness
The torrid summer heat can sap our energy, making it challenging to stick to a consistent exercise schedule. The good news is that alcohol-free beverages can both quench your thirst and help you to stay active all summer long.
For instance, alcohol-free beer is such an effective sports recovery drink that Germany’s Olympic athletes use it while they train to rehydrate and help their muscles recover after intense workouts. Alcohol-free beverages contain more antioxidants and vitamin B6. So, if you’re training to run a 5K race or simply a devoted fan of Sweating to the Oldies, these drinks can help to keep your muscles supple, replenish calories, and reduce inflammation.
Besides, alcohol-free beer and wine are much tastier and more fun than water or a kale smoothie. We dare you crack open one of these cold brewskis at the gym to see if anyone raises an eyebrow.
4. Feel happy, not hungover
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol to relax and unwind after a stressful day can lead to agonizing after effects. Post-drinking hangovers, sleep disruptions, and anxiety flare up when we drink too much alcohol. If you have ever gone to bed after drinking booze and woken up to a splitting headache, nausea, low energy, and big-time regret, you know what we’re talking about.
Now the booming health and wellness movement has inspired more Zoomers and adults of all ages to embrace an alcohol-free lifestyle for physical well-being and mental clarity. These drinks are safe enough to enjoy every night of the week. They’re far more energizing and refreshing than alcohol, so you can party at night and still feel great the next day.
5. Get social, not plastered
Whether you’re the host or a guest at this summer’s social events, it makes sense to have alcohol-free drinks on hand.
Be a great host by helping everyone feel welcome and included by stocking your fridge with alcohol-free beer and wine. Your guests will appreciate your thoughtful variety of drinks, especially if they’re designated drivers, pregnant women, or taking medications that don’t mix with alcohol. Extend the fun ambiance to non-drinkers by making virgin cocktails to help everyone feel like they belong.
You can even wow your guests by cooking with these beverages. At your next barbecue, add alcohol-free beer to your marinade for beef, chicken, and steak to keep the meat moist and tender. Last summer, Zoomer Breakfast Radio’s Neil Hedley made a pulled pork recipe using alcohol-free Hill Street Craft Brewed Lager that was so tantalizing not a morsel was left over. Neil’s colleague, Sam Houston, dished up a delicious poached pear recipe that featured Vin(Zero) Brut Blanc alcohol-free sparkling wine for the perfect light summer meal.
Before you head off to a social engagement, bring some alcohol-free drinks with you. Having an alcohol-free drink in your hand will help you to fit in and avoid booze-fuelled bad behaviour that could get you kicked out (or tasered).
Exciting innovations coming soon
Looking ahead, alcohol-free drinks are poised to remain popular over the long term. But another beverage category is being developed that may eventually displace alcohol as the go-to social beverage: cannabis-infused adult beverages.
According to a new report by Deloitte, the Canadian market for the next stage of cannabis products is worth an estimated $2.7 billion annually, with edibles representing more than half that figure.
Cannabis-infused beverages are expected to represent a $529 million market because:
- 44% of current cannabis consumers and 53% of likely consumers say they will buy beverages and other cannabis goods;
- 39% of likely consumers said they would use cannabis-infused beverages because they don’t want to smoke or vape cannabis; and
- 35% of likely cannabis consumers see cannabis-infused beverages as an alternative to alcohol.
Zoomers represent the fastest-growing demographic of cannabis consumers because they seek natural wellness products to treat common ailments like inflammation, pain, insomnia, and anxiety.
Make this summer spectacular by making room in your cooler for alcohol-free beer and wine. These drinks will support your health and wellness goals, and help you to stay safe, social, and inclusive.
And remember, if you or your loved ones can’t drink alcohol — or if you just choose not to — you can still enjoy Hill Street’s award-winning alcohol-free beer and wine. Cheers!