Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken, the world’s biggest brewers, are launching non-alcoholic beer of their flagship brands in India that will compete with beverages of cola giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo on supermarket shelves and restaurants. United Breweries (UB), controlled by Heineken, is launching Heineken 0.0, a zero-alcohol version of the beer brand, while AB InBev will roll out Budweiser 0.0 next week across the country.
There is a movement towards consuming less of carbonated sugary drinks and a need for a non-alcoholic cold refreshment in a country like India. UB which launched its first non-alcoholic beer brand Kingfisher Radler last year in Gujarat, a state where making, selling and drinking alcohol is banned since 1960. Zero alcohol beers also tend to be more profitable in the country because beer is subject to high taxes that make up for more than half the retail price. Alcohol is prohibited in Bihar, Gujarat, and Nagaland, besides the union territory of Lakshadweep.
While brewers look to enter such prohibitive and completely untapped markets with zero-alcohol beer, their new launches are also driven by changing consumer trends and rising demand from teenagers due to stringent laws on drinking age. On a global scale, the non-alcoholic beer market is projected to surpass $25 billion by 2024, according to a research report by Global Market Insights, Inc. In India, such products account for less than 1% of the overall beer market.