Why Zero-Alcohol Drinks Aren't Cheap Like Lemonade.
A popular misconception about non-alcoholic drinks is that they should be cheap. People often baulk at the price of alcohol free drinks, but there is a good reason they are more expensive than soft drink.
A popular misconception about alcohol-free drinks, whether they’re spirits, wine or beer, is that they should be low-priced. Not just cheaper than the alcoholic equivalent, but much, much cheaper. Cheap like lemonade.
Given this misconception, some people can feel a little shocked when they start looking at the Sans Drinks website and see that the actual prices aren’t substantially different from a regular bottle shop.
But there is a very big difference between lemonade and the new wave of zero-alcohol offerings on the market.
Popular brands like Seedlip, McGuigan Zero, Lyre's (and many others) have more than alcohol-free drinks in common. They are all invested in creating a high quality product. That means high quality ingredients, a tried and tested recipe and a unique production process. Then there is the packaging, the marketing and the distribution just like regular alcoholic drinks.
To make it, zero brands need to take all of this very seriously. Right now, the market for alcohol free drinks is still in its infancy, but it’s growing rapidly. According to data from Nielsen, the no and low-ABV sector has grown a whopping 506% since 2015. It’s a serious market.
This means that producing something delicious, memorable and can really replace an alcoholic drink is really important – brands need to establish themselves in this new and exciting market. Something that tastes like lemonade (and costs a couple of bucks) just won’t cut it.
Then there is production – in many cases, it is actually more expensive to make non-alcoholic drinks. Alcohol free wine, for example, is made in the same way as traditional alcoholic wine, and then the alcohol is removed at the end. This process means that the new wave of alcohol free wines that are on the market are vastly superior to the grape juice that was on offer to non-drinkers a decade ago. To create a non-alcoholic wine, they can't just use any old grapes, because there is no alcohol to hide behind. They need the most expensive, top-notch grapes, plus so much of it is lost in the de-alcoholisation process so they need to start with so much more liquid. This is the main reason non-alcoholic wine costs more than soft drink.
It’s a similar story when it comes to many types of alcohol free beer and spirits. They’re not cheap or easy to make, so naturally the price reflects this.
On top of all this, when considering the cost of alcohol free drinks, I also like to think about the value I place on having a grown up drink. I wonder, why are many of us so willing to spend more money on alcoholic drinks? Why are we placing so much value on the alcoholic element of the drink and not the overall experience?
People tell me that since Sans Drinks opened they have been blown away by the options that are on offer now. It means that whether you’re cutting down on booze or breaking up with it long term, you can still enjoy a glass of wine, a G&T, a beer or a cocktail (to name just a few options). It means that you don’t have to miss out. It means that you’re not stuck drinking lemonade!
Which non-alcoholic drinks are most affordable?
1. Amalfi Spritz
The Lyre's Amalfi Spritz, ready to drink can is a dead ringer for an Aperol Spritz and cheaper.
2. Edenvale Pinot Gris
This Edenvale Pinot Gris is an absolute winner on my wine tasting evenings, a unanimous wow and thumbs up for this wine from entire tables before I even tell them the price. From Aussie brand Edenvale, this is a new addition to their range that you won't find in the juice section of supermarkets.
3. Carl Jung Rose
The Carl Jung Rose is a very dry, easy to drink rose that's a real sleeper-hit in the non-alc wine world. It often gets overlooked because it is so cheaply priced but it's also a huge winner at the tasting table.