MEDIA RELEASE 6th  January 2020

Kiwis are creating a new norm by drinking more no- and low-alcohol beer, wines and spirits when they are socialising. And, the trend in New Zealand echoes what is happening around the world, NZ Alcohol Beverage Council (NZABC) says.

“Globally, no- and low-alcohol beverages have become the leading emerging trend, and it’s driven by consumers, with young people leading the way for change,” says Bridget MacDonald, NZABC’s Executive Director.

Research in the United States shows that 66% of 21-34 year-olds were making an effort to reduce their overall alcohol consumption [I].

Bridget says we are seeing the younger generation drive similar changes in New Zealand. Kiwis are drinking less, with our alcohol consumption falling below the OECD average [ii], and we’ve seen a 7% decline in drinking by young people (aged 15-24 years), from 83.8% in 2006/7 to 76.8% in 2018/19. [iii] Since 2015/16, there has been a reduction in hazardous drinking in the following age brackets: 15-24 years (-2.6%), 18-24 years (-1.7%), 25-34 years (-2.3%), 45-54 years (-0.8).

“Kiwis are becoming more wellness-focused and health-conscious – they’re thinking about what they are drinking and how they are drinking. As a result, they’re making better drinking decisions that are right for their individual circumstances, lifestyle and social situation,” says Bridget.

“The majority of Kiwis choose to drink responsibly and in moderation. We are shifting from a culture that shamed people for asking for a low-alcohol beer to a new norm where it’s actually okay to choose a drink that suits your needs, and the industry is supporting that shift.

“One global beer brand has sold nearly 5 million bottles of its 0% alcohol beer since the product launched in August 2018. What’s most heartening from that figure is that 5 million times Kiwis made the decision to choose a zero-alcohol beverage over another drink because it was the right choice for them. And, this is just one example of the many products supporting this positive shift in our drinking culture,” she says.

Mid-strength beers, (1.151-2.5% alcohol by volume (ABV)), became more popular in response to changes to drink-driving limits in 2014, growing about 220% between 2013 and 2015. [iv] However, the popularity of 0% beer has also seen a recent surge in the past two years. Between October 2017 and October 2019 there was a 169% increase in the total sales of 0-1.15% ABV beer in New Zealand.[v]

“That’s a big shift over a small period and shows consumers want options to make better choices whether for health, wellbeing or they are the sober driver.

“We all have a role to play in reducing alcohol-related harm and keeping safe and social – that’s choosing the right drink for our personal circumstances and supporting our friends, family and colleagues to do the same,” says Bridget.

The industry is responding to consumer demands to reduce their alcohol intake by providing quality adult beverages without the high alcohol content. Globally-branded and locally-crafted beers, classic tasting spirits, and quality New Zealand still and sparkling wines feature in the ever-expanding range of ‘better-for-you’ options available for consumers.

Technological advances to dealcoholize wine mean that Kiwis can now celebrate occasions with full-flavoured sparkling wine that is less than 0.5% ABV. Local winemakers are getting innovative in their winemaking techniques to produce single digit (less than 10% ABV) wines without compromising on quality or flavour. New Zealand’s lighter wines have been gaining recognition and winning awards both here and abroad.

“We’re going to see more product innovation in the next year to meet the needs of the discerning consumer and to give them more ‘better-for-you’ choices. Global trends indicate we can expect to see more low-carb and low-sugar options in 2020, such as fruity seltzers, and low-alcohol cocktails and mocktails on restaurant and bar menus that create a sensory experience using functional and exotic ingredients like turmeric and ginger or herbaceous botanicals.”

Sensible tips to keep safe and social this summer

  • • Go ‘no, low or slow’. It’s okay to choose no- or low-alcohol drinks. If you choose to drink, pace yourself and enjoy your drink slowly.
  • • Know what a standard drink looks like and keep an eye on how many you are drinking. Check out and for more information on what a standard drink is and how to make better drinking decisions to keep your summer safe and social.
  • • Drink water in between drinks to stay hydrated.
  • • Eat when you are drinking.
  • • Have a plan to get home safely.
  • • Support others to stay safe and social. Make sure there’s plenty of food, no- and low-alcohol options and water available.
  • • Need help? Call the Alcohol Drug

[i] Nielsen Insights, October 2019



[iv] Stats NZ, February 2019

[v] Neilsen Sales data, October 2019