Sales of non-alcoholic beer by Carlton & United Breweries have risen sigificantly, amid a general decline in Aussie alcohol consumption

Consumption of CUB’s non alcoholic beverages has risen. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Carlton & United Breweries’ (CUB) non-alcoholic, low and mid-strength beers now account for around 25% of all CUB sales – a 10% increase from five years ago.
  • The rise in non-alcoholic beer consumption has seen a boost thanks to Carlton Zero, which has sold more than 3.2 million litres in Australia since it launched one year ago.
  • CUB says the most common reason people drink non-alcoholic beer is because they’re the designated driver.

Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), the company behind a slew of beverages including Carlton Draught, Pure Blonde and Great Northern Brewing Co has seen an uptick in the consumption of its non-alcoholic beers.

The company noted that non-alcoholic, low and mid-strength beers now account for around 25% of all CUB sales – a 10% increase from five years ago.

CUB’s Carlton Zero especially has played a hand in the increased uptake. Since launching a year ago, it has sold more than 3.2 million litres in Australia. Plus, CUB said Carlton Zero “dominates” non-alcoholic beer sales in bottle shops, driving up sales in that category by 14 times.

This comes amid a general of decline alcohol consumption in Australia. In February, Roy Morgan industry communications director, Norman Morris noted that “there [has been] a gradual social change in Australia, with a decline in alcohol consumption over the past five years.”

“This is evident by the fact that five years ago 70.1% of Australians 18 and over consumed an alcoholic drink over an average four week period; this has now declined to 67.9% currently,” Morris said in a statement.

Chris Maxwell, CUB’s director of premium brands, told Business Insider Australia, “We know that per capita consumption of alcohol in Australia has been declining for a long time.

“We know that the trends towards moderation is absolutely a real thing and we’re embracing that as a business, which is why we launched a brand like Carlton Zero.”

Maxwell said that one of the main reasons Australians are switching to non alcoholic beverages is because it provides another option.

“We think Australians just want choice. I think the moderation message, which has been very responsibly marketed by the alcohol industry and the government over time, has definitely taken hold. And we think that’s a great thing for the consumers and for the industry.”

He said that the adoption of Carlton Zero “shows that people who really liked the taste of beer and want the opportunity to drink a beer are happy to do that in occasions where maybe, typically drinking an alcoholic product might not have been appropriate.”

Maxwell added that he was positively surprised at the adoption of Carlton Zero as non alcoholic beverages have been on supermarket shelves in Australia for 16 to 20 years.

Maxwell said in a statement that Carlton Zero’s popularity shows that it’s becoming normal to consume non-alcoholic beer on many different occasions.

“Research shows the most common reason people drink non-alcoholic beer is because they’re the designated driver, and we’re seeing this predominantly in people aged 18-34. We think this deserves a pat on the back, and really shows the moderation message is getting through.”

Carlton Zero’s first birthday coincides with the Global Be(er) Responsible Day initiative, an effort by brewers across the world, including CUB, to promote the responsible consumption of beer.

“It’s not not just one day for us. It’s a 365 day a year initiative for us but certainly global beer responsible day is a day we can come together and highlight the importance of making sure that our products are marketed responsibly.”

A CUB commissioned national online survey of 1000 people in September found that zero alcohol beer is most popular with people between 18-34 years old. Almost half of them (49%) also said they would consider drinking a zero alcohol beer at a social occasion.

So it seems Australians don’t always want to get completely hammered on a night out.

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