The Government’s commitment was stated in a new green paper, titled “Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s”, which also committed the Government to working with the alcohol industry to increase significantly in the availability of alcohol-free and low-alcohol products by 2025.
Current regulations mean that ‘alcohol free’ beer in the UK is defined as being up to 0.05% ABV. However, in the rest of Europe, beers up to 0.5% ABV are defined as alcohol free. This creates the perverse situation where beers brewed in Europe at 0.5% ABV can sold in the UK as “alcohol free”, but British beers made at the same strength must use different descriptors.
The Government’s commitment follows the rapid growth of low and no alcohol beers over the last few years, driven by consumer demand and innovative brewers. From 2013 to 2017, the low and no alcohol beer market grew by 150% in the UK. Approximately 43 million pints of low or no alcohol beer and now sold annually in the UK.
Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:
“The skill and craft needed to brew low and no alcohol beers is no different to normal strength beers, meaning they taste great and quality is not compromised. With a bigger range of low and no alcohol beers than ever before, it is a great time to give them a try.
“Changing the current definition of ‘alcohol free’ beer from 0.05% ABV to 0.5% ABV – as we have called for previously – will enable Britain’s brewers to create a wider choice of great tasting beers, reduce confusion for consumers and level the playing field with other European markets.”