What will be the biggest drink trends in 2024? Here are our predictions for the year ahead:
1. Non-alcoholic, Low-alcohol and Plant-Based Drinks:
Consumption of low and no alcohol beverages has exploded in the last few years and the trend is set to continue into 2024 and beyond. If we take cocktails as an example, it is estimated that 49% of consumers are now interested in low-alcohol versions and 45% look for mocktails on the menu. This increased awareness and popularity can be seen in other drink sectors too including spirits, wine and beer.
A shift in general consumer perspective
Consumers’ opinion of alcohol has changed dramatically in recent years and has been heavily influenced by the ‘Sober Curious’ movement.
According to Healthline – ‘Sober Curious simply means that you’ve chosen to avoid alcohol for personal or wellness reasons. It involves curiosity about the reasons fuelling your desire to drink and the way alcohol affects your life’.
Health & wellbeing is the biggest factor in choosing to drink low or no alcohol beverages and this is set to increase in 2024. It is unsurprising then that no and low-alcohol or, as it is often referred to; the ‘NoLo Movement’, is the fastest growing sector in the alcoholic drink business. In the US for example, 8 in 10 people are interested in in the NoLo movement (Carpe Travel).
Alcohol free and low-alcoholic drinks are now available in all major UK retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. Not only are the big retailers’ distributors to this movement, but they are also producers. In December 2023, Asda launched its own-brand NoLo range, that included the Extra Special Non-Alcoholic Red Berries Botanical Spirit Drink and the Extra Special Non-Alcoholic Dark Spiced Spirit Drink. NoLo alternatives are also being readily produced by well-known drinks brands such as Gordon’s Gin, Guinness and Captain Morgan who are all creating 0% alternatives to their alcoholic counterparts.
The influence of Generation Z
The Portman Group, in partnership with YouGov in the UK, conducted a recent survey and found that young adults are the main consumers of the NoLo drinks on the market. According to the survey 44% of 18-24-year-olds in 2023 thought of themselves as occasional or regular drinkers of alcohol alternative drinks, this is up from 31% of young people in 2022. 18-24-year-olds are also the most sober generation, 39% of people in this age group stated they do not drink alcohol at all. The survey found that the main reasons for this abstinence from alcohol or looking for low percentage drinks in this age group is to avoid excessive drinking in social environments and so that they are able to drive after social gatherings. As more and more GenZ come within drinking age, it is reasonable to conclude as this data suggests, that more will have this same mentality and this trend is likely to continue to grow and demand and gain popularity.
Plant-Based and Vegan friendly
Another result of the focus on health and wellbeing is the growth of plant-based alternatives and Vegetarianism and Veganism. Data by YouGov over the last two and a half years shows that 5-7% of the UK population are Vegetarian and 2-3% are Vegan. A recent survey conducted by YouGov showed that 63% of Vegans have become Vegan in the last 5 years, outlining the significant growth this lifestyle choice is having. Vegan friendly drinks are therefore more popular than ever, with many alternative options including soy and oat milk readily available not only in supermarkets but in cafes, bars and restaurants too. It is projected that sector is growing at a (CAGR) rate of 11.9% YOY and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
2. Sustainable Drinks:
Sustainability is a growing concern for consumer and retailers. The introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) in the UK in 2022, saw retailers overhauling their stock lines to reduce single use plastic with a particular focus on reducing kerbside waste that ends up in landfill, such as removing PVC, Polystyrene and MDF.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The reduce, reuse, recycle model has seen brands strip out unnecessary plastic packaging, such as plastic bottle capsules, altogether or where this is not possible switch to card or paper-based alternatives. In some cases, a plastic based capsule is needed for tamper proofing, for example when used in conjunction with a bartop or GPI closure. In these instances, recyclable PET (rPet) is the material of choice.
To avoid PPT and give the best benefit to the environment, the recycled content of RPet needs to be a minimum of 30% at the post-consumer level – i.e. it has been used by consumers then recycled. PET is also still a popular choice for producers; however, the previous industry leader PVC has dwindled significantly as it can neither be recycled nor does it contain recycled content.
The increased awareness of sustainability as a whole means that consumers often look to purchase from eco-friendly companies such as carbon neutral distilleries, B Corps, producers that use sustainable plastic-free packaging or those who operate a bottle refill scheme.
Many drinks producers are now seeking certification of their environmental credentials to assist consumers in making the right choice. Examples of these include:
- 1% for the Planet Scheme, where businesses commit to donate 1% of annual sales to environmental organisations (1% for the Planet).
- Attaining B-Corp status – This certifies a commitment to ‘positively impact all stakeholders- workers, communities, customers and our planet.’ Businesses must comply with ‘high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability’ towards communities and the planet to achieve this certification (B Lab United Kingdom).
3. Canned Cocktails & Spirits:
The ready-to-drink (RTD) market has boomed in recent years, and we believe this is set to continue in 2024. RTD cocktails for instance, are projected to have an increase rate of 14% between 2023-2030. The reasons behind this growth are similar to factors we’ve already discussed above. As stated, people are turning to drinks in more sustainable packaging, and Aluminium cans being easily recycled in UK is just one reason that canned RTD beverages have become popular. Other factors include the convenience of RTD drinks- they are perfect for the summer for example, when having a picnic with friends and family in a local park or beach. Easy to transport and dispose of, without the need for additional serveware they are readily available at most UK supermarkets, and many have own branded RTD including Marks & Spencer and Tesco.
4. Surge in Asian Drinks & Flavours:
The popularity of Asian drinks and flavours in countries such as the UK and the US has surged in recent years and is set to continue in 2024. Japanese whisky, for example is well established in the UK but new Asian drinks are emerging including Sake, Baiju and Mekhong to name a few. Sake Sling, a RTD canned brand won World’s Best RTD award in 2023. They mix Sake from Japan with fruit flavours and botanicals in the UK to make award-winning RTD cocktails. Likewise, many business partnerships and ventures have been formed between Western and Asian drinks producers in the last few years. Recently drinks producers Campari Group and Wuliangye Yibin Co. Ltd announced they were forming a ‘strategic alliance’ in November 2023, allowing them to cooperate and expand in global markets (The Spirits Business). In the same way, Western drinks producers are also physically expanding into Asian countries. Cognac producer Camus has partnered with Baijiu maker Gujinggong and have begun work on building a $30 million whisky distillery in China.
5. Celebrity Owned & Endorsed Brands:
Not a new trend, but one that is still popular and will continue to be important in 2024 is celebrity owned or endorsed drinks brands. In the UK, drink brands owned and endorsed by celebrities are easy to spot on the shelves of most supermarkets, Kylie Minogue’s rosé Prosecco and Graham Norton’s Wine Collection are permanent features to name a few. Celebrities working with or buying into established brands is predicted to continue to trend in 2024 like it did 2023, a recent example being at the end of November 2023, British Comedian Ricky Gervais became co-owner of North Yorkshire based distillery Ellers Farm.
One spirit that has benefitted and gained in popularity with the help of celebrity endorsements and investment is Tequila. Tequila’s popularity has been growing for many years, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, ‘global Tequila volume sales had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3% between 2014-2019’ (The Spirits Business). The firm also predicts the category could increase by 4% CAGR’ in 2024 alone. Tequila brands such as Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila and Diageo owned, George Clooney co-founded Casamigos have certainly helped with this continued growth.
6. It’s all about the Experience:
Drinks prices, particularly in the big UK cities have rapidly increased over the last two years. Fuelled evermore by the cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation, consumers sense of value for money has increased and the expectation of a brand is higher. This has resulted in more sensory experiences from alcoholic drinks and the need to be picture ready for a world dominated by social media. Bidfood noted in its 2024 trends report, that 43% of 18-35-year-olds will take a picture of their cocktail every time they purchase one. This is a staggering percentage, which confirms the point that to remain popular, drinks need to deliver an experience this can include unusually shaped glasses, unique flavour combinations, being served over dry ice or with pretty decorations including edible flowers and themed drinks. Similarly, when purchasing bottled drinks consumers will be looking for a premium opening experience that will drive growth for more attractive and unique closures like bartops and corks that are highly decorative and made from top quality sustainable materials. A brand’s packaging is essential for getting noticed on the shelf and needs to be functional and sustainable too.
We believe that awareness for a healthier lifestyle and sustainable drinks will have the biggest impact on the drinks market and trends this year and likely years to come as younger consumers reach the legal drinking age. Alongside this it will be interesting to see how the current economic climate will impact consumer spending habits in this category and contribute towards future drink trends.
1. 1% for the Planet ‘About 1% for the Planet’
2. B Lab United Kingdom ‘What is a B Corp?’
3. Bidfood ‘Food and drink trends 2024’
4. Carpe Travel ‘Sipping In The NoLo Movement’
5. Datassential ‘The 12 Top Beverage Trends to Know for 2024’
6. EHL Insights ‘Thirst quenching new drinks trends you’ve got to try in 2024’
7. Good Housekeeping ‘The 2023 drinks trends our experts are loving’
8. Healthline ‘A Beginner’s Guide to the ‘Sober Curious’ Movement’
9. Speciality Food ’17 food and drink trends to watch in 2024’
10. Tesco ‘UK Packaging Preferred Materials & Formats Guidelines 2023- Own Label and Branded’
11. The Cocktail Society ‘The Big 2024 Drink Trends’
12. The Drinks Business ‘Asda ups alcohol-free line as third of Brits plan for sober Christmas’
13. The Drinks Business ‘The 10 most-consumed alcoholic drinks in the world’
14. The Drinks Business ‘Top 10 alcohol-free wine brands in the UK’
15. The Drinks Business ’10 drinks trends to watch out for in 2023’
16. The Grocer ‘’Huge rise’ in low & no alcohol consumption among young adults, YouGov poll shows’
17. The Grocer ‘Alcohol-free beer and cider prices grow ahead of boozy counterparts’
18. The Spirits Business ‘Alternative agave spirits on the rise’
19. The Spirits Business ‘Campari and Wuliangye form strategic alliance’
20. The Spirits Business ‘Camus Plans $30m Chinese Whisky Distillery’
21. The Spirits Business ‘Consumer demand for canned cocktails up 20%’
22. The Spirits Business ‘Future daze: spirits trends for 2024.’
23. The Spirits Business ‘Ricky Gervais invests in Ellers Farm Distillery’
24. The Spirits Business ‘RTDs and premium Tequila to keep booming’
25. The Spirits Business ‘RuPaul extends cocktail line’
26. The Spirits Business ‘Top 10 Dry January initiatives 2024’
27. The Spirits Business ‘Top 10 marketing moves from December’
28. The Spirits Business ‘Will celebrity-backed Tequila brands succeed?’
29. The Spirits Business ‘World of Zing debuts RTDs in paper bottles’
30. The Spirits Business ‘Young people regularly drink alcohol alternatives’