As Canadians become more and more interested in reducing or eliminating their alcohol consumption, beverage companies that specialize in non–alcoholic drinks are working hard to meet the increasing demand, although they sometimes have difficulty keeping up.
Bob Huitema, who launched the non–alcoholic spirits company Sobrii in 2019, notes that the industry has “exploded” in the past few years.
Mitch Cobb, co-founder and CEO of Libra Non–Alcoholic Craft Beer, launched a single non–alcoholic beer in October 2020 and has since expanded his offerings and spun Libra off into a separate company. He notes that it has “absolutely started to take off” and that it is now easier to sell to restaurants and grocers, who were once skeptical of the drinks.
However, the increased demand has led to some issues, such as times when Cobb and Hepher have underestimated demand and run out of stock.
To help combat this, companies like Clearsips and Sansorium have launched to import and distribute non–alcoholic drinks to retailers, restaurants and bars.
Huitema believes that Canada’s non–alcoholic drinks industry is not moving as quickly as it is in other countries, such as the U.K. He notes that smaller, independent and specialty stores are more likely to carry a wide array of non–alcoholic drinks, particularly newer and more innovative brands.
Dry January, where people abstain from alcohol for the first month of the year, has helped introduce some Canadians to non–alcoholic drinks, and sales of mocktails were up 123 percent in the first half of January 2023 compared to the year before.
Thompson and Hepher both believe that demand for non–alcoholic drinks will continue to grow, with traditional alcohol brands launching non–alcoholic options, and Thompson predicts that sales will continue to rise in January for the foreseeable future.
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