Zero Proof Beverages, the Surprising New Trend
Over the past decade we’ve seen the rise of many new trends within the alcoholic beverage industry. Whether that be the influx of craft breweries, the resurgence of hard ciders, or the explosion of hard seltzers; there is no shortage of trendy beverage choices. However, the latest trend to take off within this market just so happens to be seemingly the antithesis of the industry itself: zero proof beverages. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Doesn’t ‘zero-proof beverages’ just mean any non-alcoholic beverage (i.e. soda, tea, etc.)?” And in some way, that is correct. However, this new trend is focused on creating drinks that mimic certain qualities of alcoholic beverages, but without the actual alcoholic content.
Recently, Whole Foods released their forecast of the top 10 food and beverage products that they expect will be huge in 2020, which included zero proof beverages. Stating, “With so many consumers seeking out alternatives to alcohol, unique non-alcoholic options are popping up everywhere, from menus at the world’s most acclaimed bars to specialty stores.”
On our podcast, Just a Taste, we spoke with Marcus Sakey of Ritual Zero Proof to discuss their new whiskey and gin alternatives. We discussed how they have created a product that mimics the sensation of traditional spirits, as well as who exactly is interested in products like theirs.
Now, the big question: “Why?”
At first glance, this trend can seem like some hipster fad. Alcohol without the alcohol? What’s the point? However, it’s a lot more simple than you’d think. It’s no surprise that consuming alcohol regularly isn’t necessarily a great thing for your body. Sure, it’s nice to pour yourself a cocktail after a long day at work, but often that cocktail can lead to you feeling sluggish and dehydrated the next morning. Or maybe with age your body just doesn’t process alcohol like it used to, but you still enjoy the taste of your favorite spirit. Enter, zero-proof beverages.
As stated in an article for the Chicago Tribune, “ [A]s more consumers try to lay off the sauce, often for health reasons, startups and the world’s largest booze makers alike see an opportunity to capture a growing market that has historically been undeserved.” Ritual Zero Proof is among the handful of companies who saw this market trend and jumped on it. The believed that although many people wanted to cut back on their consumption of alcohol, they didn’t want to give up the ritual of creating a cocktail. So, they sought out to create products that mimicked the flavor profile of gin and whiskey, with fewer calories and zero alcohol. Products like this allow consumers to be more health-conscious without having a drastic lifestyle change.
The Next Generation
Another huge catalyst for this trend in the beverage industry is the fact that Generation Z is generally less interested in alcohol when compared to Millennials and older generations. Now this could be due in part to many different factors, for example the rise of CBD products. But as Gen-Z’s buying power grows, many brands are seeing this as an opportunity to push zero proof beverages.
In fact, it’s not necessarily that Gen-Z isn’t interested in alcoholic beverages, rather they simply don’t like the effects of alcohol on their bodies. However, they still are intrigued by the flavors of traditional alcoholic beverages. For instance, Hoplark Hoptea is a tea product that is brewed similarly to craft beer which gives it a hoppy flavor profile but without the alcohol. Gen-Zers want to experience the complex flavor profiles that many alcoholic beverages provide, but no longer want the negative effects typically associated with consuming alcohol.
Alcohol Isn’t Going Anywhere
Now it may seem as though zero proof beverages are attempting to replace alcohol, but that isn’t necessarily true. They simply are just creating another option for those who may want a drink but aren’t in a situation where they want alcohol. Ritual Zero Proof prides themselves on being created “by drinkers, for drinkers”. These products can be used on their own, as mixers, or even in combination with other spirits. The possibilities are endless. And, as Sakey stated in our interview, their goal is to help people “drink better, rather than drink more”.