Miller & Carter rightly wins plaudits for the impressiveness of its food and the quality of its customer service, but it also beats any leading restaurant chain competitor with its choice of Low and No alcohol beers. The steakhouse offers four, including a low alcohol beer, and a no alcohol beer, ale and cider. Across the UK’s 25 largest restaurant brands chains, four have two options, 16 have just one and four list none.

Given the rising importance of more responsible and abstemious consumption on the consumer agenda, a strong case can be made that many customers are being let down by these chains.

The question of whether restaurant chains are doing sufficient to encourage responsible drinking can be explored on several fronts – not least what “sufficient” actually is? From a ranging perspective is it one, two or four options?

Despite Miller & Carter’s range of four, in terms of the proportion of the total beer/lager/cider category that are either Low or No alcohol, then its 21% share is actually bettered by the 25% share comparative of both Bills and Franco Manca. Looked at more widely, across the Top 25 chains, this proportion is currently 13%, which in all fairness, does not appear quite so irresponsible.

That said, in this climate its surprising some brands have no listings at all. Nando’s, Pizza Hut and Yo! do not list any low or no alcohol beers. And I say surprising for good reason, as this surely is more of a missed opportunity for those brands with more youthful customer profiles, as MCA’s consumer research shows how younger adults are more engaged with the merits of Low and No alcohol than their older counterparts.

As well as the product offer, there is also a pricing dimension to encouraging responsible drinking. This can usefully be assessed by reviewing the prices of the leading Low and No option against those of its full-strength equivalent. Across the leading 25 restaurant chains, the most popularly stocked non-alcoholic beverage is Peroni Libera 330ml. Drink menu analysis in February at London sites found this line to be available in seven chains. It was most commonly priced at £3.95.

What is interesting to note is how much the price discount against Peroni Nastro Azzurro 330ml varied: from just 15p up to £1.40, though most typically it was 50p. What this highlighted is not the variability, or uncertainty, in the pricing of Libera, far from it, but rather more the differences and margin enhancement on the Nastro Azzurro price.

Spotting opportunities to take a bit more margin is good business, but I would be mindful of some of the prices on selected regular beers at the likes of Frankie & Benny’s and TGI Fridays.

Returning to the matter of Low and No ranging, the menu research was also noteworthy for not picking up any qualifying wine products and found only a very limited presence of non-alcoholic spirits. Certainly, in comparison to the beer category, which is characterised by significant supplier NPD and product choice, there has to be more to come on both the wine and spirit fronts. The building momentum behind more responsible consumption surely merits it.

The Low 2 No Bev Show

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Over 70 brands will be exhibiting at the Low 2 No Bev Show at The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London E1 6QR on 17th & 18th June 2020. 

The Low 2 No Bev Show is a brand new - and unique - dedicated trade event to give the sector its own voice and support its future growth. From low-abv beers, ciders, wines & spirits to premium soft drinks, cordials and mixers, it will be the must-attend event for anyone who sources and buys low and no-alcohol beverages across retail, hospitality, convenience and the on/off licensed trade.

“Declining alcohol consumption coupled with strong innovation in low and no-alcohol drinks indicates to us that the sector is set for strong growth and the community needs an opportunity to come together to better understand and realise the full potential that is out there,” said Andrew Reed, Managing Director of Exhibitions at William Reed.

“As a leading B2B media provider in this sector we have brought together the collective might of The Grocer, The Morning Advertiser, Big Hospitality, Beverage Daily, HIM and MCA because we want to help our clients to make the most of this fantastic opportunity. We will provide them with an unrivalled opportunity to network, digest the latest sector insight and of course, to taste the latest products coming to, and already available, in the market,” Reed added.

“For 157 years, we have demonstrated thought leadership and we continue to monitor the market for opportunities and invest in new shows where we feel we can add real value.”

 For further information and to register for tickets to Low 2 No Bev show, visit https://www.low2nobev.com