If we look at the growth of the non-alcoholic beer market for the last few years, we see a general upward trend. The projected CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) for this sector from 2022 to 2032 is 7.8%. Considering businesses grow at 7% per year on average, that's not a bad number.
At the same time, that's not a very impressive number either. At a time when consumerism is at its all-time high, people are quick to jump onto new trends. And that explains why the non-alcoholic beer market is growing, but not impressively.
The branding problem of zero-alcohol beer
There are some significant problems with the way people perceive no-alcohol drinks. They are always seen as a replacement, not an entity in themselves. It's like settling for tea when you can't have coffee.
The branding of non-alcoholic beer and alcohol should focus on highlighting it as a product and not a replacement. The perception among people is slowly changing as more and more people are having access to high-quality non-alcoholic beers. Nonetheless, the growth is very slow. And there's a clear reason behind it: the quality of zero-alcohol beers.
The quality problem of zero-alcohol beer
There's a quality problem with zero-alcohol beers, and it's hard to deny. Most people who drink no-alcohol beer complain of a rather bland taste. It lacks the fundamental taste and aroma of beer, which completes the drinking experience. For someone who is trying to quit drinking, the drastic change in taste is a huge restraining factor.
Sotirios Kampranis, a Professor at the University of Copenhagen, explains why this happens. He points out that the drastic change is a result of aroma loss. Non-alcoholic beer does not have the signature aroma of hops which gives beers a distinct note and aroma. Alcohol is removed from beer generally by heat. Along with the alcohol content, the heat also kills off the aroma, which makes the beer taste bland.
For a long time, there was no answer to this problem. You could not make non-alcoholic drinks taste and smell similar to their alcoholic counterparts. In pathbreaking research, researchers Sotirios Kampranis and Simon Dusséaux have come up with a way to replicate the exact aroma of beer in non-alcoholic beers.
Scientists can now make non-alcoholic beer taste like full alcohol beer
In the grand scheme of the alcohol substitute market, this is a groundbreaking invention. Sotirios Kampranis and Simon Dusséaux from the University of Copenhagen recently published a paper detailing this invention.
Monoterpenoids are a group of tiny molecules that have the signature aroma of hops. Kampranis and Dusséaux have come up with a way to produce and isolate monoterpenoids. Now they can take the produced monoterpenoids and add them to the finished non-alcoholic beer to give the taste of full alcohol beer.
Researchers have attempted to discover something like this for a long time but were never successful. As a result, all the attempts were aimed at trying to closely match the aroma of full alcohol beer. Monoterpenoids, on the other hand, give us the exact aroma, not a close match of it.
Going forward, this research would be regarded as one of the most important developments for the non-alcoholic beer market and industry. And its exact aroma replication is the best thing about this process.
The effects of this research
It would still take some for this technology to reach manufacturing units across the world. However, it is safe to presume that technology will create ripples. Not only is it pathbreaking, but also sustainable.
The researchers have modified baker's yeast cells into nano-factories that could be cultivated in fermenters and emit the scent of hops. Now manufacturers can this instead of rather expensive aroma buds in the brewing tank only to discard their taste at the final stage.
This has a direct implication on the cost of producing non-alcoholic beer. The cheaper the products are, the more sales companies would make. But it's not just a cost game here. Buyers will now get significantly better quality for less money. While it may sound wild, this research is the iPhone moment in the non-alcoholic beer market.
A more sustainable solution
This method of producing aroma for non-alcoholic beverages is also better for the environment. Aroma hops are grown only in specific parts of the world. In the United States, most of the cultivation is done on the West Coast. That means anytime you have to import aroma hops, you'll have to pay a huge transportation and storage charge.
Another factor is the water-extensive nature of hops. Hops need a lot of water to grow, and they cannot be grown in places with less rainfall or water supply. This method of creating an aroma for beers saves a lot of water and money.
Will this research solve the branding problem of non-alcoholic beer?
This research has made it possible for manufacturers and marketers to claim that their product replicates the taste of full-alcohol beer. They couldn't have done this anytime in the past.
When people drink non-alcoholic beer brewed in this process, the difference will be apparent. It's only a matter of time before word-of-mouth marketing does the trick. Beyond that, marketers must make the most of this invention and use it in their promotions. If used correctly, this research has the potential to transform the zero-alcohol beer market.
A general change in people's opinion on non-alcoholic beer will take time to change. It also depends on how many manufacturers adopt this method and how quickly they do it. For now, marketers need to focus on pushing the word out and letting people know that a revolution is on its way.