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Dry January boosts low-alcohol sales for UK supermarkets | Business


Supermarket sales of no- and low-alcohol beer jumped nearly 40% in January as Britons challenged themselves to a month off booze.

With an estimated 4.2 million Britons embarking on the dry January challenge this year, sales of alcohol-free beer surged 37%. Demand for adult soft drinks such as premium ginger beer and tonic also rose 3% as shoppers reached for alternatives to their favourite tipples.

Veganuary also had a big impact on the supermarket aisles, boosting sales of meat substitutes such as soya mince and vegetarian burgers by 14% and lentils by 6%, according to the latest figures from grocery market analysts Kantar.

Kantar’s Fraser McKevitt said: “Many people start the year with good intentions and pledges to make healthier choices following the excesses of the festive period. Those who committed to drinking less in January helped the retailers boost sales of non-alcoholic beer and adult soft drinks.”

low-alcohol uk sales

UK sales of no- and low-alcohol beer have doubled in four years with sales of £63m estimated for 2020, according to analysts at Euromonitor.

The Veganuary campaign also had an impact, McKevitt said: “More than twice as many consumers bought one of the supermarkets’ explicitly labelled plant-based products in January 2020 compared with December 2019.”

Nearly half those who took part in Veganuary did so for health reasons, according to a Kantar poll of 6,600 people who made the pledge, followed by environmental concerns and ethical reasons.

“Nearly half of people giving up meat and dairy in January did so because they perceive it as a healthy choice,” said McKevitt. “However, the plant-based food boom is not primarily caused by a rise in the number of people following strict vegan diets – vegans still make up just 2% of the population and only 5% of us are vegetarian. Instead the trend is being driven by many people making small changes.”

The UK is gripped by plant-based food fever. This year 130,000 people in the UK, up from 100,000 last year, pledged to stick to a plant-based diet during Veganuary. Worldwide, about 400,000 people signed up.

The lifestyle overhaul has been made easier by high-profile new vegan products such as Greggs vegan sausage roll and its meat-free steak bake.

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This scale of the business opportunity is not lost on food manufacturers and retailers with one in five of all new foods launched last year labelled vegan. Market research firm Mintel predicts sales of meat-free foods will soon pass £1bn a year with the Co-op, Asda and Waitrose among the retailers to have launched new vegan ranges in time for this year.

The sea change in eating and drinking habits comes at a time when the big four supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – are losing more ground to the fast-growing German discounters. While the total grocery market barely grew in the 12 weeks to 26 January, sales at Lidl and Aldi were up 11.1% and 5.7% respectively. With new stores opening around the country, the discounters had grabbed 800,000 more shoppers than a year ago, Kantar said.

The big four food retailers all lost market share during the period. Sainsbury’s fared best, with sales down by 0.6% but Morrisons was the laggard with a fall of 3%.



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