The Biggest Alcohol Trends of 2022 Will Include Low/No ABV Drinks & Much More

Packaged cocktails and beverages with side benefits are among the segments expected to grow.
Hard seltzer can

NATIONAL REPORT — Boozier isn't always better. Customers are increasingly trying no- and low-ABV drinks as they focus more on health and moderation, making the low-ABV movement a trend to watch out for this year.

Other notable alcohol trends include portable formats and bold, adventurous flavors and compositions, according to 2022 predictions from DoorDash.

No- and low-alcohol beverage sales increased 33 percent to $331 million over the last 52 weeks, according to Nielsen, while IWSR found that the non-alcoholic spirits category is expected to grow 35 percent by 2023. However, this isn't necessarily due to an increase in teetotalers.

"It's not just about abstinence from alcohol. This movement is also about people who just don't want to drink as much," said Joshua James, owner of non-alcoholic retailer Ocean Beach Cafe in San Francisco. "They want to enjoy some of the same flavors from alcoholic beverages, but without the hangover or other negative side effects."

Offering a variety of no- and low-ABV beverages also caters to the sober-curious movement, which includes consumers who choose to mindfully reduce their alcohol intake or periodically take breaks from drinking.

The no-ABV market is just starting to grow in the United States, while non-alcoholic beer has had a larger presence in countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany for years, according to James.

DoorDash advises retailers to stock interesting and unique no- and low-ABV alternatives alongside their beer and liquor options to enable customers who want to lower their alcohol intake to still be able to enjoy a delicious drink. Placing them near or next to alcohol offerings allows customers to discover them organically.

Other 2022 trends include:

  • Hard seltzer bubbles up — Hard seltzer brands are growing with fun, fruity flavors such as Black Cherry and Spicy Pineapple drawing in customers. New spiked beverage such as hard kombucha, hard iced tea and more are likely to follow. If a beverage type exists, a hard version is likely on the way.
  • Adaptogens go mainstream — Adaptogens are herbal pharmaceuticals such as roots and herbs from Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions that supposedly help the body deal with stress. Common ingredients include ashwagandha, lavender, ginseng, tulsi and reishi. Their effectiveness may be up for scientific debate, but they remain popular with consumers who use them as an alternative or addition to drinking alcohol.
  • Natural wine sales spike — Wines that are made with organic ingredients, have no additives and have had little intervention in their fermentation have recently grown in popularity after the Institute for Origins and Quality, the French Ministry for Agriculture and the French Fraud Control Office agreed on a common definition of "natural wine." Organic wine sales are projected to reach 87.5 million cases globally this year.
  • Cocktails to-go — Initially prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, offering to-go cocktails has become standard for many restaurants and retailers alike, and packaged ready-to-drink beverages such as canned margaritas are among the fastest-growing alcohol segments. Convenience and recyclability are two major factors behind the boom, as canned drinks are portable, less fragile than glass containers and more recyclable.
  • Alcohol delivery drives sales — Alcohol delivery sales are on the rise in the wake of the pandemic, and experts predict this trend will hold, whether it is due to safety concerns or a preference for convenience. Restaurants have also found that alcohol delivery helps boost profit margins.