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Manufacturers face drop in demand as more drinkers plan to cut back on alcohol consumption

| Wine and liquor

New research from Mintel reveals that almost one in five (17%) British drinkers expect to reduce their alcohol consumption over the next year, potentially hitting sales of drinks manufacturers.

Today, some 80% of British adults drink alcohol, with 72% of users drinking at least once a week and 47% doing so more than once a week. One in ten (10%) drinkers claim to drink every day, with those aged 55 and over (14%) most likely to be daily drinkers. But while Mintel’s research shows that drinking alcohol is commonplace, only 5% of the nation’s drinkers expect to drink more in the coming year, while 17% expect to cut back. And although over-45s (19%) are the most likely age group to plan to be cutting back on drinking, as many as 16% of 18-24 year olds also expect to reduce their alcohol intake.

Among drinkers expecting to cut back on their consumption, saving money (45%), lifestyle changes (41%) and managing weight as part of a diet (38%) were found to be the main reasons for doing so. Meanwhile, almost a quarter (22%) who plan to cut back will be doing so for health reasons, while almost one in ten (9%) say they have become more wary of driving after having a drink.

Commenting on the research, Chris Wisson, Senior Drinks Analyst at Mintel said: “Over the next year a higher share of Brits are expecting to cut back than increase their consumption. While consumers may have understood health problems associated with drinking for quite some time, it seems rising prices have finally prompted Brits to consider cutting back the amount of alcohol they are drinking. And while cost is the number one reason why Brits are planning to cut back on drinking, lifestyle changes - such as becoming parents - are also a key reason for reduced consumption.”

The research also found that almost half (48%) of drinkers believe there should be clearer information about the alcohol content (% ABV) on drinks’ packaging or pump clips, while, a quarter (24%) say they often consider calorie content when choosing what to drink. Women are more likely than men to seek out healthier alcoholic drinks such as those with a lower calorie and alcohol content. More than a quarter (27%) of female drinkers say that they often consider the calorie content when buying drinks, compared to 21% of men. Under-35s are also particularly calorie-conscious, further highlighting the importance of calorie labelling given the high interest among core users in the market.

Wisson added: “Information such as alcohol and calorie content is not always easily visible on alcoholic drinks’ packaging or pump clips. This could be a particularly problematic issue in the on-trade where it is often difficult to get close to the bar to see pump clips or packaged drinks. All age groups show a broadly similar agreement that there should be clearer information about the alcohol content (% ABV) on drinks’ packaging or pump clips. Brands could also talk more specifically about how their ABV is beneficial to the taste and enjoyment of the drink, for example helping to enhance the taste of ingredients such as hops or grapes."

Meanwhile, quality over quantity appears to be at the forefront of many drinkers minds, as many Brits are now looking for better quality drinks for the fewer occasions in which they drink. Indeed, today, more than half (55%) of drinkers say that it is worth paying more for higher quality drinks.

In terms of market value, sales of alcoholic drinks rose by 11% between 2010 and 2014, with further growth expected to push the market towards £42.9bn in 2015. Mintel expects the market to reach £50bn by 2020.

Mintel’s research shows that dark, golden and spiced rum has seen the fastest market growth in recent years, rising by 58% between 2010 and 2014 to reach £477m, closely followed by sparkling wine which has risen by 53% in the same time period to reach £1.4bn.

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