3 cheers for near-beer! No and low-alcohol options are a growing trend

Some Canadians have been drinking less alcohol lately as part of Dry January or Dry February.

While ‘dry’ months might seem like something that would concern booze businesses, it seems low alcohol and no-alcohol beverages are growing in popularity, opening up a new market for those companies. 

According to global beverage analysis group International Wine and Spirits Record (IWSR), consumption low alcohol and no-alcohol products will increase by a third by 2026.

Abstainers make up part of that market, but the bigger part is drinkers wanting to break-up their night with low or no-alcohol options.

Gradient Vodka Soda is a Calgary-based company that offers a new level of control for drinkers, offering what is says is the world’s four pack of vodka sodas with reducing strengths; one can of each of seven per cent, six per cent, four per cent and three per cent.

Canada’s new guidelines for drinking recommend no more than two alcoholic drinks a week. It’s a drastic reduction from the previous guideline from 2011, which recommended no more than three drinks a day.

The guidelines are meant to greatly reduce negative health consequences.

“Canadians drink a lot of alcohol,” said Kevin Shield a researcher with Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse and Addiction (CCSA).

“They drink ten litres of pure alcohol per year, which is actually one if the highest consuming counties in the world, so Canadians should be aware of the risks.

“The more you drink, the more harm you’re causing, so less is best.”

The Canadian Cancer Society is encouraging people to participate in a fundraising campaign called Dry February, saying many people don’t realize that any amount of alcohol they consume increases their risk of developing at least nine types of cancer.

“It’s a great opportunity to reflect on your relationship with alcohol,” said Elizabeth Holmes, senior manager of health policy at the Canadian Cancer Society.

“When you drink alcohol, why you drink alcohol and (to) think about the health risks.”

A new study indicates a so-called damp month is more impactful than a dry one.

More than 25,000 people took part in the study by Sunnyside.

Only 32 per cent abstained from drinking in January 2023, the rest just cut back, but all participants reported physical and mental health improvements and nearly all planned to continue drinking less in the future.

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