Bars that stock more non-alcoholic drinks could reduce alcohol consumption

People are more likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink if there are more of those on offer than a boozy alternative, according to new research.

A number of UK breweries have invested in their low alcohol ranges.

When people are presented a range of drinks, they are 48% more likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink when the proportion of non-alcoholic drink options is higher than those of wine, beer or spirits.

That is according to a joint study by researchers from the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, the University of Bristol, and the University of Cambridge.

The researchers tested subjects by asking them to choose from a range of eight drinks online.

The participants were even more likely to opt for an alcohol-free drink when the number of those available rose from four (50%) to six (75%).

When the proportion of non-alcoholic drink options decreased from four to two (25%), participants were 46% less likely to choose a non-alcoholic drink.

Dr Anna Blackwell, the corresponding author said: “To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that increasing the availability of non-alcoholic drinks, relative to alcoholic drinks in an online scenario, can increase their selection.”

Blackwell suggested that her team’s research could be used to change the way pubs, bars and restaurants offer drinks up to the public.

Anna Blackwell said: “Many licensed venues already offer several non-alcoholic options but these are often stored out of direct sight, for example in low-level fridges behind the bar. Our results indicate that making these non-alcoholic products more visible to customers may influence them to make healthier choices.”

The news comes as sales of non-alcoholic beer have grown rapidly in recent years. Sales of no and low alcohol drinks in the on-trade rose by 48% last year to be worth around £60 million, according to data from market researcher CGA. This itself was driven by an 80% rise in alcohol free options.

“The market for alcohol-free beer, wine and spirit alternatives is small but growing,” Blackwell said, and improving the selection and promotion of non-alcoholic drinks “could provide an opportunity for licensed venues to reduce alcohol consumption without losing revenue.”

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