Pushing boundaries in sophisticated adult drinks

Alcohol-free spirits? This may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it’s an exotic new category pushing the boundaries of new product development. This revolution is shaping the future of tomorrow’s drinking culture. We track evolving consumer demand as these products continue to grow.

Consumers are demonstrating an increased desire for healthier and controlled lifestyles; they crave alcohol-free and adult beverages and don’t want to compromise on either taste or experience.

‘Better-for-me’ has become an integral concept in healthy drinking. Health consciousness is the number one reason for alcohol moderation. Yet, rather than posing a contradiction, conscious consumption and indulgence can go hand in hand. There is an increasing number of ways to combine them.

Consumers have many reasons for reducing their alcohol intake. Some dislike the taste of alcohol, while others are passionate athletes who want to keep training.

Others are staying away from alcohol for reasons involving religion, pregnancy or medication; or they just want to save money.

If you take just a superficial look at store shelves, you’ll note that healthier alcohol- alternative variants are widely missing. Yet, if you look more closely at recent market developments, the changes are already evident.

Alcohol carries a variety of different flavours and sensations and has a big effect on flavour intensity and release. Symrise, therefore, had to rebalance the missing edgy and biting notes.

Globally, alcohol-free bars are popping up to provide an alternative where consumers can enjoy a bar atmosphere while drinking sophisticated alcohol-free drinks and cocktails. And this trend extends beyond locations. An increasing number of domains are influenced by this movement. Have you heard of ‘Dry January’ or ‘Sober October’? During these monthly events, millions of people abstain from drinking alcohol.

An evolving trend

The trend towards alcohol-free and low- alcohol beverages started two years ago with gin alternatives. Manufacturers started developing botanical waters to create the taste of gin but without the alcohol content.

Over time, additional beverage categories followed and began to join the trend by developing alternatives to dark spirits and aperitifs.

We’ve used our extraction and distillation technologies to create a best-in-class portfolio that caters to the technical needs of this new category. This enables us to create a product range that covers different solvents, labelling options and taste directions so it will appeal to a wide variety of consumers

Thus, even if alcohol-free spirits are a niche product at the moment, they are an extremely fast-growing and emerging new category that holds enormous potential for the coming years.

Meet the challenge

The creation of fantastic, complex non- alcoholic drinks brings challenges with it and adds various complexities. This growth in consumer demand has encouraged Symrise to experiment creatively. In so doing, the company had to consider several aspects and overcome barriers to the development of ideal low- and alcohol-free alternatives.

We have mastered the challenges using our expertise in extraction and distillation technology, allowing consumers to enjoy themselves without compromising on taste or the social experience. Therefore, we are now able to provide support with innovative concept ideas and leading-edge solutions,

Claudius Kohrt, marketing director enthuses.

Shelf life

Ethanol greatly impacts the flavour and microbiological stability, and the shelf life of the product. Symrise could meet these challenges and master the balancing act, creating sophisticated alcohol-free beverages that taste like authentic alcoholic spirits.

“We have developed ideal alternatives to drinking while not drinking for people who still want to enjoy the taste or the social experience. To achieve this, we built on our decades of experience and expertise in the alcoholic beverage industry and our deep understanding of the development of alcoholic products; and then applied this to non-alcoholic beverages.

“We have used our extraction and distillation technologies to create a best-in- class portfolio that caters to the technical needs of this new category. This enables us to create a product range that covers different solvents, labelling options and taste directions so it will appeal to a wide variety of consumers. In order to thoroughly understand consumer wishes regarding the moderation of alcohol, we conducted a study on the drivers, barriers, taste preferences and needs in different markets,” concludes Kohrt.

Digital issue View Archive

Food Review February 2021

Catch the February edition of Food Review for insightful editorial into the world of colouring foodstuffs and tips on how to get your processing plant Industry 4.0 ready.

Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za