UK: Dry January Boosts No-Alcohol Sales
In the United Kingdom (UK), the Dry January campaign has boosted no-alcohol sales by almost 40% in January 2020.
Dry January is a campaign launched by the non-profit organization Alcohol Change UK. The campaign was registered in 2014, but similar efforts for alcohol-free months can be seen throughout history, for example “Sober January” launched by the Finnish government in 1942.
This year an estimated 4.2 million Britons took part in the alcohol-free month to start 2020. This led to a 37% surge in alcohol-free beer sales.
As Movendi International previously reported, the trend for the alcohol-free way of life is growing around the globe. Mainly driven by youth who are increasingly health conscious, the lifestyle has now spread to various demographics across countries.
With the growth of the alcohol-free way of life, the beverage and alcohol industries is also adjusting to this new trend. This has led to more low- to no-alcohol beers, spirits and mocktails being introduced.
In the UK alone, sales of no- and low-alcohol beer have doubled in four years with sales of £63m estimated for 2020, according to analysts at Euromonitor.
The overall interest to live healthier lives is also shown by the Vegenuary campaign happening alongside Dry January. 130,000 had pledged to maintain a vegan lifestyle during the Vegenuary campaign in 2020, and most of them are doing so for health reasons, according to Fraser McKevitt from Kantar.
Going beyond ‘Dry January’
As people become more aware of the health harms of alcohol and other substances as well as unhealthy food, the trend is increasing for people to reduce or abandon these harmful products. While this trend is positive, and necessary to challenge and change the pervasive alcohol norm in society, it can not be ignored that this new trend focuses on individual responsibility, which is possibly why Big Alcohol giants such as Diageo and AB InBev have jumped on the band wagon and introduced their own no- to low-alcohol products.
However, it is important to tackle health harmful products such as alcohol with population-level policy measures. One such World Health Organization (WHO) recommended alcohol control policy measure is taxation. For example, the UK is not doing well on this front as recently reported, alcohol tax cuts and freezes led to nearly 2000 more deaths and 100,000 additional crimes in England. Scotland – in contrast – was able to cut down harm because of the minimum unit pricing (MUP) policies.
While people continue to keep the alcohol-free trend going on a personal and community level, it is also crucial for countries to implement evidence-based, cost-effective and high-impact alcohol control policies to tackle alcohol problems at a national level and protect the human right to health.