Will ‘going dry’ be the biggest health trend of 2023?

Will ‘going dry’ be the biggest health trend of 2023?

Fri, Jan 20th 2023

People have had more time to amend their relationships with alcohol in the past two years – either consuming more “quarantinis” to get through lockdown or cutting back in the name of health (originally published Jan. 1, 2002). 

Many became weary of pandemic cocktails and more interested in their health, according to social researchers.

Europeans have been drinking less alcohol in an effort to improve their physical and mental health during the pandemic, according to a recent study of 32,000 drinkers. Researchers found that since April 2020 alcohol consumption has decreased in every European country except in Ireland and the U.K. (American drinking is also on the decline, according to a Gallup poll.)

“People are more aware of their health and are more interested in boosting their immunity since Covid arrived on the scene,” researcher Erica Numert said. The study found that those in the highest income brackets and with the lowest levels of stress over the pandemic were also the ones who reduced their alcohol consumption the most. Those who reported the highest levels of stress over finances and Covid tended to not reduce their alcohol intake or increased it.

A generational divide

The recent dip in drinking mirrors a larger trend among young people – Generation Z drinks 20% less than Millennials, and Millennials drink 12% less than Generation X, according to a Berenberg report. Some are even calling the youngest legal drinkers – those who are 16 to 22 years old – Generation Dry.

“Millennials are much more concerned about what they put in their bodies than their grandparents were,” researcher Pierce Mare said, adding that the generation is driving a $4.2 trillion global wellness market. With rates of anxiety and depression skyrocketing among the 25-40 year old age group, many are cutting back or cutting out booze entirely as therapy.

Moreover, a growing body of research suggests that red wine does not protect us from heart conditions as we’ve been told in decades past; but that all alcohol consumption increases rates of cancer and cognitive decline. A 2018 study in The Lancet even concluded that there is no safe amount to drink.

“Meanwhile, we found that Generation Z is not as health-obsessed as others, but that they choose not to drink for fear of looking out of control on social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok,” Mare added.

NOLO on the rocks, anyone?

Whatever the reason people are drinking less, it has opened up the market to a bevy of NOLO (no- or low-alcoholic) beverages. With bars being shuttered in 2020, sales of off-premises alcohol increased by 20% from April to October in the U.S. — but, sales of non-alcoholic beer and spirits increased by nearly 38%, according to Nielsen statisticians. In just six months, the NOLO market exceeded the previous expectations that it would grow by only 30% between 2018 and 2022.

“In the nonalcoholic space, it’s just been up, up, up,” says John Wiseman, the founder of Curious Elixirs, a line of alcohol-free, ready-to-drink cocktails. He added that their reviews reflect that “there are more and more people who are like, ‘I just decided during quarantine that I’m not going to drink anything because I want to keep my immunity strong.’”

In the meantime, global beer sales have decreased every year since 2015. In an effort to join the “moderation movement,” Budweiser’s parent company Anheuser-Busch has committed to making 20% of its beer volume no- or low-alcohol by 2025. Coors acquired a kombucha company last year and Heineken and Peroni rolled out non-alcoholic beers recently.

And Switzerland has joined the party as well, so to speak.

Rebel Spirits includes a 0.0% rum, gin and aperitif alternative perfect for making a classic gin and tonic, spritz and dark & stormy cocktails

The rebels

“We don’t have to convince the bar scene anymore that they should carry non-alcoholic products; their customers are asking for it,” says Christof Tremp. The Zurich native quit his high-powered PR job in 2019 and discovered the benefits of “alcohol without alcohol” while traveling the world.

“For me, the problem is I always want to have another gin and tonic, but the hangover is much worse at 43 than it was ten years ago,” he said. In 2021, Tremp launched REBELS 0.0% – a line of 0.0% liquors all made from high-end, organic botanicals and produced in Switzerland. REBELS uses chili extract to effectively mimic the throat-scratching effect of alcohol in their three products: gin, rum and an Aperol-style aperitif.

Launching his business during the pandemic proved to be helpful, according to Tremp.

“People are more mindful about their drinking; and, launching our company during Covid was a tipping point for us,” Tramp said. Swiss alcohol consumption has steadily declined by nearly 30% per capita in the last 28 years and the country’s first alcohol-free bar, Verbena Bar, recently opened in the luxurious Bürgenstock Resort.

“To us, the trends make sense. There is always a reason to not have that second or third cocktail – health, driving, a meeting the next day – Swiss people are open to this concept and bars would rather make money than have you order a glass of water,” Tremp said.

Those in their 20s drink 20% less than those in their 30s and they, in turn, drink 12% less than those in their 40s and 50s.

The traditionalists

“People want to bike or drive or motorcycle through the mountains here in Switzerland and they don’t want to have an alcoholic drink when they take a break,” says Avi Pluznik, brand manager for Lateltin AG, a liquor company founded in Switzerland in 1899. The 120-year-old company recently launched three alcohol-free products: G’nuine Zero gin, Jsotta Rosso and Jsotta Bianco alcohol-free vermouths.

“In my experience, it’s those in the cities who are more open to the new trends than the Swiss in the countryside who love their beer and Schnapps,” said Pluznik, adding that lately “people everywhere” seem to be more aware of their health and how much they are drinking.

“We have older customers who do not want to mix medication with alcohol, but what something to cheers with,” Pluznik said, adding “that younger customers who are active” don’t want to be slowed down by alcohol.

“We don’t want to leave anyone behind,” Pluznik added.

G’nuine Zero is 0.0% proof gin made for gin and tonics without the hangover.

Not just a flash in the pan

Loosid, a social platform aimed at being the “sober Facebook” launched in 2019 and attracted more than 120,000 members. An alcohol-free cocktail book, Good Drinks by Julia Bainbridge, was named the best cookbook of 2020 by the Los Angeles Times and Bon Appétit magazine. Completely alcohol-free bars opened in New York, Austin, London and Tokyo and alcohol-free liquor stores opened in Germany and the Netherlands in 2021. Who knows what 2022 will bring, but it appears it will have a little bit less booze in it than the years preceding.

This article may be freely shared and re-printed, provided that it prominently links back to the original article.

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