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Alcoholic drinks losing their spirit in Kiwiland

How many of us hit the bottle (Infographic by Dr Malini Yugendran)

Dr Malini Yugendran

Auckland, January 18, 2023

A rising proportion of New Zealanders is opting to refrain from alcoholic beverages and instead choosing 0% alcohol alternatives as health concerns and social responsibilities climb.

Non-alcoholic beers, wines, spirits, and cocktails are becoming increasingly popular among young and older adults.

Sridevi Krishna Pusarla, Director of Liquor Library said, “The non-alcoholic drinks trend started to pick up a year or two before the pandemic. Though, non-alcoholic booze alternatives are still a tiny market compared to regular alcoholic beverages we are seeing a trend where alcohol sales are declining and, sales of alcohol-free counterparts are soaring.”

Zero Alcohol

According to the Moore Wilsons website, anything having less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) is referred to as a “zero alcohol” drink.

Ms Pusarla said that alcohol-free drinks are also called Dry Drinks.

“These dry drinks are a great alternative for those who do not like the taste of alcohol. Zero-alcohol beverages provide an opportunity to enjoy a cocktail without the after-effects of alcohol. They tend to be lower in calories. However, they are still not calorie or carb-free,” she said.

Ms Pusarla said that younger generations are adopting a healthier lifestyle and reaping the benefits of going alcohol-free.

0% alcoholic drinks are getting popular (Infographic by Dr Malini Yugendran)

“Fitness fans and those who are conscious about their lifestyles are also switching to these healthier alternatives from traditional drinks,” she said.

Non-alcoholic drinks are also becoming more widely available with many bars and restaurants now offering a variety of options. This increased availability is making it easier for people to choose non-alcoholic drinks and adopt a healthier and more responsible lifestyle.

Ms Pusarla said, “Non-Alcoholic drinks like Pals, Seedlip Gins, Almighty, Good George and Heineken Zero are fast-moving alcohol-free drinks in our store. People are preferring alcohol-free drinks due to a rise in product quality as well as a broader public interest in decreasing alcohol intake.”

Our drinking culture

According to Action Point, 78.5% of adults aged 15 years and over reported drinking alcohol between 2020 and 2021, significantly lower than in 2019/2020 (81.6%). More males (81.8%) than females (75.2%) drank between 2020/2021.

According to the Ministry of Health, nearly one in five adults has a hazardous drinking pattern. That is 18.8% of adults had a hazardous drinking pattern in 2021/22. Hazardous drinkers have an Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test score of 8 or above, indicating an established pattern of drinking that poses a high risk of future physical or mental health harm.

Asians had a lower rate of hazardous drinking: 6.0%, whereas Māori was 33.2%, Pacific 21.7% and European/Other 20.1%.

These figures are concerning since excessive alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of accidents, injuries, and chronic health issues such as liver disease and cancer.

It is a major contributor to crime and social issues such as domestic violence and child abuse.

Considering these issues, New Zealanders’ decision to drink non-alcoholic beverages is a positive one. These drinks provide the same social and recreational benefits as alcoholic beverages, but without the negative effects of alcohol.

They also offer hydration, lower calorie intake, and the ability to enjoy a drink with friends or at social events without the effects of alcohol.

The trend towards 0% alcohol drinks is a great one for New Zealand, and the government and businesses must continue to support and promote it. We can contribute to lessening the harm caused by alcohol and promote a healthier and safer society for all by encouraging responsible drinking and giving access to non-alcoholic alternatives.

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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