SOUTH AFRICA – South African beer market is slowly taking up a growing global trend of consuming no- and low-alcohol beer (Nablab) categories, says South African Breweries (SAB).

Zoleka Lisa, vice president for corporate affairs at SAB, notes that as an increasing number of people around the world were passing up on their traditional alcoholic beverages, South Africa was no different.

Taking the western world as an example, 47% of Americans were no longer as loyal to their historic adult drink of choice and that drinkers wanted to reduce their alcohol consumption to lead healthier lifestyle – a survey by the global market research company Nielsen reveals.

Lisa says that the company will innovatively focus on aligning its products with the changing consumer trends as it further cements its position in the country’s alcoholic beverage market.

“As numbers of lighter or lower alcohol beer sales increase, it is a win-win situation for brewers and the public at large, as we grow our volumes while reduce the total alcohol consumption in South Africa, meaning a safer place for all.”

Among no and lower- alcohol beer brands available in South Africa under the SAB stable are Castle Free and Becks’ Blue, while Hansa Golden Crisp, Flying Fish CHILL LITE, Castle Lite, and Lion Lager all contain not more than four percent alcohol.

“An alcohol-free beer offers people the freedom of choice to still enjoy the taste and the sociability of a beer, and the sense of belonging of having a drink with one’s friends, but without the alcohol,” Lisa said. 

“It also allows the drinker to have a safer consumption experience by practicing ‘pacing’ by combining the consumption of alcohol beers with alcohol-free beers as a means of moderation.

“The practice of pacing allows for safer and smart drinking options because a lower intake of alcohol over longer periods gives the body time to breakdown alcohol at a steady rate, therefore accumulating less alcohol,” she adds.

Low alcohol beer is generally considered to have an ABV of 3.5% or less; while no alcohol is 0.0%-0.5%, depending on the market.

AB InBev, the parent company of SAB, now sees around 8% of its global beer volumes coming from no and low alcohol beers, working towards a goal of reaching 20% by 2025.

“There’s been a dramatic rise in the non-alcoholic beer segment in the market’” says Julie Yufe, vice president marketing for AB InBev Europe.

“I think this is a positive story for consumers and positive story for brewers: it gives us lots of flexibility, it allows us to be in lots of places where we had previously never been,”​ Julie adds.

The growth has been partly attributed to millennials, the all-important category for any food and drink marketing, who are becoming increasingly health conscious and reducing their alcohol intake.