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30th December 2021

One in three UK drinkers now regularly choose low or no alcohol products

UK drinkers increasingly choose low and no alcohol products all year round and not just for Dry January, the fourth annual online study YouGov commissioned by the Portman Group has found.

Almost one in three (32%) UK drinkers now ‘semi-regularly’* consume low and no alcohol products compared to one in four (25%) in 2020. Furthermore, a fifth (20%) of those who have tried low and no alcohol say they are more likely to drink these products now compared to a year ago, almost double the number saying this in last year’s survey (11%).

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the most popular reason for consumers who have tried low and no alcohol to drink these products continues to be ‘being able to drive home from social events’ (chosen by 33% of respondents). Reducing the possibility of health concerns or current medical reasons were also cited by 22% of consumers**. The other main reason is to socialise without drinking excessively with 20% of respondents, whilst 12% explicitly stated they currently alternated low and no products with regular strength alcohol to moderate their overall consumption.

Furthermore, the survey shows that over a quarter (26%) of those who have tried low and no alcohol say that their subsequent weekly alcohol has decreased since they first tried it. These results indicate that low and no alcohol could be an effective tool for people looking to moderate drinking, often whilst at home with COVID-19 remaining an ongoing concern.

It should be noted that alcohol drinkers are the main buyers of non-alcoholic products using them as alternatives to alcohol. Well over half (58%) of non-drinkers have never even tried a low/no product and just 14% are semi-regular* consumers.

Across the UK there were increases in the number of low and no consumers. Welsh drinkers top the chart as most likely to be semi-regular* low/no drinkers, with a large jump to a third (36%) of respondents compared to less than a quarter (22%) in 2020. English consumers come in at 32% up from 25%. 29% of Scottish consumers are semi-regular* drinkers, up from 27%.

In response to the figures, Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group – the alcohol social responsibility body and marketing regulator said: “As these positive findings show, there has been a big increase in drinking low and no during the pandemic, indicating that many UK drinkers have looked to moderate their alcohol consumption by swapping with non-alcoholic options. These figures show the fruits of large industry innovation and investment into the sector over the past decade to provide consumers with an array of lower alcohol options.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The 2021 survey was conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Portman Group. Fieldwork was undertaken on 9th-10th December 2021 and involved a total sample size of 2,079 adults. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

In the 2020 survey, the total sample size was 2100 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 15th December 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).


* Use of the term ‘semi-regular drinkers’ refers to those who either ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ drink low and no alcohol products.

** This includes those looking to reduce the possibility of short-term physical health problems (e.g. hangovers) (12%); reduce the possibility of long-term physical health problems (e.g. alcoholic liver disease) (11%), and those citing ‘illness / medical reasons’ (8%).

Northern Ireland is not included in these findings due to the sample size being too small.

Notes to editors

  1. A spokesperson is available for interviews upon request.
  2. The Portman Group was formed in 1989. It is the alcohol industry regulator and social responsibility body. It has over 130 Code signatories from producers, retailers and membership bodies.
  3. The Portman Group is funded by 14 member companies: Asahi UK Ltd; Aston Manor Cider; Bacardi; Brown-Forman; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; Campari; C&C; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Mark Anthony Brands International; Mast-Jäegermeister UK; Pernod Ricard UK, SHS Drinks and Thatchers’.
  4. The Code of Practice for the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks was first published in 1996. This year we celebrate 25th anniversary of the Code. The Code seeks to ensure that alcohol is promoted in a socially responsible way, only to those aged 18 and over, and in a way that does not appeal particularly to those who are vulnerable. The Code has helped create an industry that works effectively within the context of a self-regulatory model, while encouraging design, innovation and creativity. This has been done in an effective, responsive and inexpensive way.
    • Effectively – over 170 products have been amended or removed from the market. Many hundreds more have been helped to adhere to the Code before appearing on shelves through the support of the Advisory Service.
    • Responsively – there have been 6 updates to the Code over 25 years responding to changes in public attitudes and expanding its reach; all without recourse to Government or Parliamentary time.
    • Inexpensively – the 14 leading members of the industry are currently funding the model for all to be protected at no cost to the public purse.

Press release from the Portman Group

For more information contact:

Nicola Bates, Director of External Affairs