Brewer Heineken Hungária says the popularity of its non-alcoholic beers has grown significantly in the last five years, with Heineken 0.0 purchases doubling in the last year, while sales of alcohol-free Soproni Radlers have risen 130% since 2014.
The company has decided to create a unified commercial image, running under the name 0.0% Zóna (0.0% Zone), while carrying on its activities aimed at combating drunk driving, says a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.
Heineken says the market for fruity Radlers is strongly seasonal, with demand peaking during the hot summer months. Still, the dynamic growth of the product category remains undeniable.
There are two ways to create non-alcoholic beers, one being the interruption of the maltʼs fermentation and the other being the more complicated extraction of alcohol from the fermented product. Heineken 0.0 is made with the latter method in order to achieve an authentic Heineken lager taste, the company says.
Meanwhile, the trend of advancement of non-alcoholic Radlers is so strong that it has affected the market of low-alcohol Radler products, with sales in the latter category falling 45% in five years. Heineken says that while alcohol-free products are becoming increasingly available, low-alcohol drinks are going out of fashion.
“The market of non-alcoholic Radlers shows long-term growth in Hungary, a process in line with international trends,” says Barbara Balogh, marketing director of Heineken Hungária.“An increasing number of people choose these beverages, as they contain natural ingredients such as malt or hops. Soproni and Natur Zitrone Radlers are really non-alcoholic, so they can be safely consumed before or during driving. Customers are open to new flavors, so Heineken Hungária is constantly expanding its palette, with the most popular drinks being citrus-flavored drinks, and those made from Hungarian fruits.”
Consumers consider domestic ingredients and the amount of added sugar very important, besides the naturalness of the product. Hence, Soproni Radlers are made with Hungarian sour cherries and elderberries, while Natur Zitrone products are made using the natural sugar substitute stevia.
“Because of the growing consumer demand for non-alcoholic products, we wanted to bring all of these products under one umbrella, which is why we have developed the 0.0% Zone in stores,” Balogh explains. “In such refrigerators and shelves, all of our non-alcoholic products are easy to find, from Heineken 0.0 to Soproni Radlers. Many people consume these products during sports activities, working hours or for lunch, and accordingly they are available in more and more places.”
The 0.0% Zone is also part of the initiative Heineken Hungária is fighting to curb drunk driving. The company has launched a campaign globally for this good cause with former Formula One driver David Coulthard. In addition, Heinken Hungária has asked Hungarian band Intim Torna Illegál to write a song and shoot a video about the dangers of drunk driving.
Non-alcoholic beers have been available throughout Europe since the 1980s, and in Hungary from the 1990s. However, significant growth in turnover has only been observed in recent years, both locally and globally.