Emma Heal from Lucky Saint talks all about the No and Low space

We’ve seen more people choose alcohol-free products lately – what’s happening in the category?

The world is undergoing a rapid cultural shift in terms of attitudes towards alcohol. Not drinking or cutting down is becoming more mainstream, with 3 out of 4 people in the UK actively moderating their alcohol consumption. This is a year-round habit, not just for Dry January or designated drivers. And while Gen Z gets the spotlight, alcohol-free is popular across all age groups, with people adopting healthier lifestyles and reducing their alcohol intake.

We’re seeing more alcohol-free options on tap. How important is that?

It’s really important, especially when it comes to reducing stigma around not drinking . Though attitudes are shifting, research shows that especially amongst men, there can be a sense of embarrassment when ordering an alcohol-free beer. Having it on draught means people can be a part of the round, ensuring they feel very much a part of the occasion.

You talk about ‘the influence of the non-drinker.’ What’s that about?

Non-drinkers often decide where a group goes. 65% of UK adults say non-drinkers in their group influence the choice of venue, in the same way that someone with a specific dietary requirement would most likely choose a restaurant. With 1 in 3 pub visits now being alcohol free, there's a real case for making sure venues have an inclusive offering, catering to different types of consumers.

The UK Government are re-looking at definitions of the alcohol-free category, including updating the threshold of alcohol-free to 0.5ABV% – can you explain what that means for alcohol-free producers?  

We’re excited about how the Government can support the alcohol-free category. We’re already seeing the hugely positive impact it’s having on people and so clearing up some of the confusion around the category definition will help accelerate that impact.

Across the UK we're just scratching the surface on demand for alcohol-free - for example alcohol-free beer sales are around 2.5% of total beer, but there is still huge potential for where it can get to, taking the example of Spain where it’s at 17%.

Although defining up to 0.5%ABV as ‘alcohol-free’ is widely accepted within industry and by consumers, officially updating the descriptor of ‘alcohol-free’ will help grow awareness for the category, make it easier to understand and set it up to fulfil its huge potential.

You opened your own pub last year – how’s that going?

It’s been fantastic. Pubs are a great British institution, and our brand belief is that the greatest reward of drinking is the social connection, not the alcohol. Our pub, The Lucky Saint in Marylebone, serves the best of both alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks, making it a really inclusive environment. Plus, our team works above the pub, which is a fun perk for me!

What’s your prediction for the alcohol-free category this summer?

Alcohol-free beer is set to be a hit this summer, especially with all the sports events coming up. Last summer, alcohol-free beer consumption beat January’s for the first time, and we expect the same this year.