Steering away from alcohol or just simply taking a break from it has become a popular practice in recent years. It all started with month-long sobriety challenges like Sober October and Dry January, which inspired individuals to reevaluate their alcohol consumption. The Sober Curious movement began to form around 2018, aiming to help people better understand their relationship with alcohol and make healthier choices for themselves. The term ‘Sober Curious’ was coined by the author, Ruby Warrington, and the movement opened the door for people who are curious about mindful drinking and the impact of alcohol on life. Moreover, consumer habits are shifting, with many people choosing to switch to non-alcoholic drinks instead.
The travel industry understands that there are many customers who have never drunk alcoholic beverages for various reasons, and many people who are watching their alcohol intake. This means that now, more than ever, it is essential to provide passengers with more choice.
What are the current market trends?
The Dry January challenge is an annual campaign started by Alcohol Change UK that brings people together to put their drinking habits on hold for at least for a month. It started in 2013, when an estimated 4,000 individuals joined the challenge. Every year, the number of participants continues to rise. In 2022, more than 130,000 UK citizens signed up. US adults also joined, with 35% skipping alcohol for the entire month.
But what effect does this have on businesses? The low and no-alcohol beverage industry is growing; according to the Washington Post, sales of non-alcoholic beverages spiked by 33% to US$331 million in the last year, and in the UK, one in three or 32% of drinkers now opt for low and no-alcohol drinks – an increase from 2020 statistics when recorded low and no-alcohol beverage consumers were only 25% across the UK. This trend is visible across many markets, specifically within the onboard sector. The travel industry accommodates different types of passengers every day, from young and old drinkers, to non-drinkers. Airlines will regularly encounter people who are pregnant, controlling their alcohol intake, or simply not fans of drinking alcohol. With such a broad passenger demographic, non-alcoholic beverage catering should always be a priority for airlines.
What are the low and non-alcoholic drink offerings?
With various sobriety movements happening, now is the perfect time for airlines to jump on the bandwagon and invest in low and non-alcoholic drinks. Choosing which low or non-alcoholic beverages to invest in should be a crucial part of any menu selection. Below is an overview of some of the options available to airlines today.
This is a type of non-alcoholic drink that replicates the flavour of alcoholic cocktails, usually as a combination of sodas, juices, herbs, and infused syrups to create a unique and sophisticated taste profile. According to Google Trends, there was a 42% increase in online searches for the word “mocktail” in 2020. Mocktails are already being served in Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.
If you want to enjoy a drink with a delicious spirit flavour without alcohol, non-alcoholic spirits are the best choice. These are simply distilled drinks that contain low to no alcoholic content at all. This type of drink undergoes similar traditional distillation processes, which control the alcohol content. For example, a copper still is filled with a neutral grain spirit and different botanicals and other natural flavourings. To achieve the desired flavours, the process also includes heating fruits, herbs and spices.
It can also be produced through the maceration method, which allows natural flavours to soak in until they generate a taste comparable to that of a real spirit.
Beer can also be buzz-free. With an estimated valuation of US$40 billion by 2032, investing in the non-alcoholic beer market is surely a no-brainer for airlines. The alcohol by volume (ABV) of non-alcoholic beer typically ranges from as low as 0.001 to 0.5%. Taste is subjective and depends on the brewing process and the ingredients used. Some say that non-alcoholic beer tastes sweeter than its alcoholic counterparts. There are a number of non-alcoholic beer options available to airlines, including Heineken 0.0, Wellbeing Brewing, Budweiser Zero, Suntory All-Free, and Santa Clausthaler, to name a few.
Wines also come in alcohol-free variations and can be a suitable alternative. Worldwide demand for non-alcoholic wine has surged in recent years – and is expected to continue to increase at a CAGR of 10% from 2023 to 2033 – making it a must-have item on airline menus around the world. It is made using the same steps as traditional wine, but the alcohol is removed during the last part of the process.
Some of the best non-alcoholic wines on the market include Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon, Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Riesling, Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Pierre 0% Rosé, and Töst, to name a few.
Which airlines have these offerings?
Many global airlines offer non-alcoholic alternatives to cater to their customers who are abstaining from alcohol, as well as those whose religious beliefs or health conditions prohibit them from drinking. Some carriers have temporarily suspended serving alcohol altogether or on certain flights only. The decision also depends on social conditions. For instance, some airlines in the United States have decided to implement alcohol restrictions on their services due to an influx of rowdy passengers.
Aircraft based in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), Royal Brunei Airlines, and EgyptAir, fly alcohol-free as there are significant Muslim populations in these countries. Thus, it’s only fitting for such airlines to prohibit serving alcohol to their customers.
Check out just some of the airlines that offer non-alcoholic drink options:
Cathay Pacific’s signature drink, Cathay Delight, can be served as a mocktail or paired with the passenger’s choice of alcohol. The drink is composed of milk, coconut milk, kiwi juice, and mint leaves. Another mocktail from Cathay Pacific is the Oriental Breeze, which is a blend of sour plum tea, cranberry juice, lemon juice, honey, and rosewater, garnished with a dried rosebud.
The flagship carrier of Finland provides its clients with flavourful juices and mocktails, with the blueberry juice drink being the most popular order. The Finnair-branded blueberry juice is even available in selected supermarkets in Finland.
One of the two flag carriers of the UAE offers several mocktail options, including an Apple Spritzer, a Virgin Cucumber Gimlet, and an Orange Fizz, which is a mix of ginger ale and orange juice.
Qatar Airways was the first airline to serve the world’s first luxurious non-alcoholic sparkling drink, which is the So Jennie premium, non-alcoholic rosé. Other mocktails available onboard are Pineapple Margarita, Orangeade, Pineapple Punch, Spiced Tomato Juice, and Apple Cooler.
Business-class passengers can enjoy Malaysia Airlines’ signature mocktail, Wau Emas. The non-alcoholic drink contains tart pineapple juice, pandan syrup, and effervescent soda water.
This British airline carries a unique no and low-alcohol cocktail menu onboard. This includes The Bold Spritz, which is a combination of soda, lemon, and Regal Rogue Bold Red vermouth, as well as the Shepherd’s delight, which is a mix of Fever Tree ginger ale, Seedlip Spice, and a lemon slice.
This major American airline offers different types of non-alcoholic beverages, including a selection of Seagram’s products such as Ginger Ale, Seltzer Water, Tonic Water, and AHA Orange Grapefruit Sparkling Water.
The Taiwanese international airline’s inflight beverage bar serves two types of mocktails. One is the Amber Dream, which is made of ginger ale, apple juice and cranberry juice. The other is Sonata in the Air, which consists of Sprite, cranberry juice and pineapple juice.
Several exhibitors at World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE), taking place in June 2023, will be showing their ranges of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks:
So Jennie Paris
In 2011, Jennie Kergoat-Ruelland was organising a princely wedding in Abu Dhabi when she realised the lack of non-alcoholic drink options in the market. This is where the spark to produce alcohol-free sparkling wines started. She spent several months developing and refining the right formula, and eventually, So Jennie Paris was born. The business offers 0% alcohol sparkling wines that are low in calories.
&Stirred Cocktail Mix
This company prides itself on offering consumers’ favourite low or no-alcoholic drinks in a tetra pack. Customers can easily drink wherever and whenever they prefer, plus, its products are available in a pitcher size, allowing them to be shared with family or friends. Its instant mocktails include the mountain mojito, classic colada, and mango colada. Cocktail mixes like the Cosmopolitan, margarita, and whisky sour are also available.
Lockdown Liquor Co
The company is an award-winning premium blended cocktail business, but also offers non-alcoholic blends in its product offerings. The company offers a liquor-free version of the classic Forest Picante, as well as its exclusive non-alcoholic take on the Seaward Pepino drink. Its beverages are crafted by expert mixologists.
For further information, please visit https://www.worldtravelcateringexpo.com/pax