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CASTLE MALTING NEWS in partnership with www.e-malt.com Chinese
18 June, 2018

Brewing news New Zealand: New Zealanders drinking more low and zero alcohol beer options

New Zealanders are drinking more low and zero alcohol beer options while out on the town, Stuff.co.nz reported on June 22.

The fifth most popular tap beer from Lion Breweries was its Speights Mid, with 2.5 per cent alcohol content.

Aucklander Catlin McIlhagga, the general manager of 95bFM, chose to stop drinking a few years ago.

"I didn't want to drink alcohol anymore but the whole social thing of having a beer is still nice," she said.

McIlhagga said she hasn't faced any negative feedback for her choice, though going out could still present a challenge.

"Zero alcohol beers are really hard to find in bars and I would rather not pay NZ$14 for a mocktail.

"I mean, it's nice but I thought alcohol was supposed to be the expensive bit so what am I paying for?"

She has found supermarkets and liquor stores offering an increasing number of options, including some "that weren't terrible".

Figures released by Stats NZ show a flattening of the overall availability of low alcohol options in 2017, after a massive spike over the previous three years.

In 2013, there was around 3.36 million litres of low-alcohol beer, doubling to 7.86 million litres in 2017.

Low-alcohol beer was defined as beer being 2.5 per cent alcohol or less.

The overall amount of beer available in 2013 and 2017 were almost the same at just under 289 million litres.

Sara Tucker, a spokeswoman for Lion Breweries, said sales of low alcohol beer were particularly strong in bars and restaurants.

"We are also seeing that those choosing to moderate their consumption will not necessarily just think of low or no alcohol products but will often decide to 'trade up' to a more premium beverage," she said.

"Effectively this means they're drinking less, and are willing to pay more for what they deem as better quality."

Massey University researcher Andy Towers said youth and young adults were turning away from alcohol.

"There is a growing awareness around the world that it's just not cool anymore to be drunk," Towers said,

"It's not a pattern confined just to New Zealand either. Youth and young adults worldwide are drinking less than their parents used to at the same age while those in their middle or older adulthood are drinking more."

Towers said it was too early to tell what impact an increasing number of low alcohol options would have on New Zealand's drinking habits.

Inspector Brent Register said police have not noticed a significant change in how New Zealanders drink as a result of an increased market share of low alcohol beer.

However, he said police encouraged any options that could reduce alcohol harm and kept people safe.


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