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Research: Consumers thirst for healthy beverage alternatives as alcohol intake declines
Siân Yates

Siân Yates

19 March 2024

Research: Consumers thirst for healthy beverage alternatives as alcohol intake declines

Consumers across Europe are shifting their beverage preferences, turning away from traditional alcoholic drinks and towards a diverse array of healthier options. This revelation comes from a study conducted by Prinova – a supplier of ingredients and premix solutions for the F&B and nutrition industries – which sheds light on evolving trends in the beverage space. According to the findings, a significant proportion of consumers, particularly those in the 25-34 age group, are reining in their alcohol consumption. Among the 1,277 physically active European consumers surveyed, 42.5% admitted to reducing their alcohol intake over the past three years, marking a substantial departure from the conventional drinking culture.

What are they turning to instead? A spectrum of healthier alternatives, with tea, coffee, still water and juices/smoothies topping the charts. This shift is not confined to one demographic; preferences vary across age groups, genders and regions. For instance, while the older generation shows a preference for dairy beverages, the younger cohort is more inclined towards alcohol-free beer. Energy emerges as the coveted wellness benefit, surpassing hydration and post-exercise recovery. This is reflected in the 35% of men reducing alcohol consumption by opting for energy drinks. Moreover, a significant portion of consumers expressed a desire for a broader selection of healthy beverages, with millennials leading the charge at 64%. The research also uncovers the ingredients that drive consumer choices. Vitamins and minerals take centre stage, followed closely by plant protein, indicating a growing demand for functional beverages enriched with premium micronutrients.

Other factors influencing purchase decisions include affordability, natural ingredients, trusted brands and scientifically proven formulas. Commenting on the findings, James Street, global marketing director at Prinova, said: “Consumers are increasingly re-evaluating their relationship with alcohol, whether that means embracing the ‘sober-curious’ trend or simply moderating their intake. However, our research also suggests that many more would be persuaded do so if they could replace booze with appealing healthy alternatives.“ He added: “Given the scale of this market need, and the increasingly wide range of on-trend functional ingredients available, it’s clear that there are still huge opportunities for innovation in the functional beverage space”.

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