Mindful drinking has been an overarching trend in 2023, according to the latest annual Food & Drink Report from Waitrose.

Since the previous report, Waitrose cited a 23% increase in sales of low/no beer, cider,

wines and spirits. As demand grows rapidly, the retailer has introduced dedicated low/no zones into 253 stores.

Pierpaolo Petrassi MW, head of trading for BWS, said there has been a rise in “premium products which taste great next to their alcoholic counterparts,” mentioning well-known brands such as Heineken, Warner’s and Guinness, which have released alcohol-free versions of their original products. 

The report noted that mindful drinking is becoming more mainstream with consumers, with around 5% of the 2,000 people surveyed by Waitrose (in October/November 2023) saying they had their first low/no drink in 2023. A further 15% said they intend to reduce their alcohol intake over the Christmas and New Year period.

Petrassi highlighted a shift in consumer attitudes towards low/no drinks, as more consumers move away from the view that adult drinks are strictly alcoholic.

“As people become more health-conscious, we’re coming round to this idea – and it’s opening up an exciting new world in low- or alcohol-free spirits, cocktails and beer,” he said.

Elsewhere in BWS, the report noted a growing interest in natural wine, chilled reds and orange wine, which has seen an 85% increase in sales. Petrassi partially attributed this to consumers becoming more “adventurous” and looking for new flavour experiences. 

Turning to spirits, Japanese whisky was a hit with Waitrose shoppers over the past year, with an 11% increase in sales. Helped in part due to the trend for moderation, highball drinks such as whisky and soda also seemed to be popular with consumers throughout 2023, with the report mentioning a 17% rise in sales of Waitrose’s club soda.

In beer, Guinness saw success in 2023, with a 5% rise in sales of original Guinness and a 77% boost for Guinness 0.0. 

Speaking of the past year, Petrassi said: “The rise of no and low, less heavy reds, ice in wine, cocktails in cans – this year we’ve been ripping up the alcohol rulebook and discovering a new freedom in choosing what we want to drink and when.”