Beer manufacturers launch low-calorie options as consumers move toward healthier lifestyles

Are beer manufacturers looking to make low calorie versions of their products?

The move towards healthier lifestyles has meant that beer manufacturers are fighting their product’s traditional high-calorie image and coming up with low-calorie options, according to data and analytics company GlobalData.

In 2017 Bud Light re-entered the UK market, 16 years after the US brand’s previous ill-fated launch. As well as having 27 calories per 100ml, Bud Light has a lower ABV than standard Budweiser, at just 3.5%. The brand claims that the re-launch has been successful so far in attracting a younger audience.

Aleksandrina Yotova, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “Some consumers perceive low alcohol beer as lacking taste and quality. This attitude leads to innovation in the sector, in terms of reducing calories without lowering alcohol content.”

In 2016, UK-based Skinny Brands unveiled Skinny Lager, a low-calorie beer made using a special brewing process that removes residual sugars from the drink.

At 4% ABV, it is not low in alcohol, but it has very low carbohydrate content of just 2.97g per 330ml, which is likely to be well received by consumers.

Yotova continued: “35% of UK consumers associate ‘healthy’ with ‘low-calorie’, according to our 2017 Q4 survey. However, this rises to 49% when looking at 35-44 year olds specifically, and is slightly higher for female than male consumers. With a calorie count per bottle of just 89, Skinny Lager is bound to attract health-conscious consumers, especially among this age group.”

Skinny Lager also boasts gluten-free and vegan-friendly ingredients, and it is not alone – a spate of craft beers have claimed such credentials recently. According to GlobalData’s primary research in 2017 Q1, 3% of UK consumers say they follow a vegan diet, rising to 10% for the 25–34 age group.

Yotova adds: “This highlights millennials as the consumer groups on the lookout for certified vegan products. The same age group is also more likely to opt for gluten-free products. In the UK, 8% of consumers aged between 18 and 34 associate ‘gluten-free’ with ‘healthy’, according to our 2017 Q4 survey.

“This compares to a lower ratio of 5% when looking across all age groups in the UK. Low-calorie, vegan and gluten-free, rather than low alcohol content, are therefore set to be the winning attributes for beer targeting young adults.”