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Better for you

Better for you

Having indulged in copious amounts of rich food, wine and beer over the festive period, along with lots of quality time with my couch; the thoughts of getting back to active living and a better diet was almost too much to bear. So I put my FitBit on my cat and hoped she would keep things ticking along. She’s apparently lazier than I am, so I reluctantly decided to get in gear and start to get ‘healthy’ again.
With that in mind, I had a look at what is available in the mine-field that is ‘better for you’ – starting with the hardest part – the gargle.

If I had looked at this a year ago, the availability of low or no alcohol products would have been quite limited. Today however, with a growing movement towards health and wellness, as well as an increasing awareness of the dangers of excessive drinking for our health; means that there is an abundance of new products entering the market. As our relationship with alcohol shifts towards being one that is more mature and responsible, alcohol-free and reduced strength products are no longer seen as inferior. In many cases, these products are even more desirable as they offer the taste and experience of alcohol – without the guilt.

‘‘…as mindfulness and wellbeing become central motivators in consumer purchasing decisions, changing attitudes towards products that are known to impair cognitive functions are pushing consumers to value rejuvenation over intoxication when it comes to drinking alcohol… manufacturers have begun to incorporate herbal ingredients, botanicals and spices to give products ‘therapeutic’ or ‘restorative’ properties’.” (Drinks Insight Network)

Recent entrants to the Irish market include Heineken, with the launch of Heineken 0.0 – a bottled lager that has been double-brewed, allowing the taste to remain after the alcohol has been removed. Guinness have also joined the fray with the launch of ‘Open Gate Pure Brew’. Seeing industry leaders push and support these products is indicative of a major change in customer behaviour and this move towards a more balanced approach to drinking.

Willem van Waesberghe, global craft and brew master at Heineken, said the new lager, which contains half the calories of regular beer, was selling strongly in a number of countries, including the Netherlands, Spain and Russia. “We are a little bit amazed by its success.”

When it comes to spirits it would be remiss of me not to mention Seedlip – the brand responsible for igniting the non-alcoholic spirit category. It offers a sophisticated alternative to alcoholic drinks while delivering the rituals and drinking experiences associated with premium cocktails to consumers. Having launched in 2015, the brand has grown to be in line to sell almost 1 million bottles this year (Dailymail.co.uk). Irish companies are hot on the trail of this trend with non-alcoholic gin brand Silk Tree launching this year. Another one to keep an eye on.

Data from a 2017 Nielsen report reveals that the value of non-alcoholic wine in the UK rose by 66% last year, while no-ABV beer showed 37% value growth.“

This ‘mindful drinking’ trend has also spurred a move away from artificial flavours to natural ingredients and an increased demand for lower calories, lower carbs, gluten-free, vegan and lactose-free options which have even stretched into providing functional benefits for alcoholic drinks.

State side, this trend can be seen playing out amidst the Hard Seltzer sector. Made using it’s BREWPURE® process, White Claw is riding the crest of a wave, followed by the likes of Bon & Viv SpikedSeltzer, Truly Spiked & Sparkling and Pura Still a non-carbonated FMB in a category valued at $500 million and growing fast.

White Claw variety packs were up 453 percent, to more than $90 million, while the company’s Black Cherry packs were up 137.7 percent, to more than $36 million. (Source, brewbound.com)

If you’re counting the calories and simply want to stay hydrated, there’s always water. But if like me, you suffer from ‘water boredom’; sparkling water and new innovations in that category are a good place to start. Take the likes of LaCroix – with an astonishing range of flavours and crazy design; it’s a cultural phenomenon and had reported sales of $826.9 million in 2017. If you want water inspired by beer, Californian Brewery Lagunitas has recently launched ‘Hop-water’ – a sparkling water, inspired by its eponymous, flagship IPA.

Finally, if going all ‘Gwyneth Paltrow’ is your thing, the new Raw Water craze might be your thing. Proponents say that this ‘off the grid’ water has beneficial minerals which are typically removed from treated or filtered water. With some brands retailing at $40 per 2.5 gallon jug, this really is water for rich people. Personally, I’m not sure I’d want to know what untreated Dublin water might do to me.

All of this shows that brands really are moving fast to stay ahead of consumer trends towards wellness, balance and health. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the long term – is this the future, or just a fad? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I have a cat to take off a treadmill and a drink to pour.