Tesco has vowed to become the champion of low and no-alcohol drinks and is introducing the largest range in its history.

David Tavernor, who has recently been appointed Tesco’s no/low beer buyer, said: “We are proud to be able to offer more choice on low and no-alcohol products across all categories from mid-March 2017.

“We will have a larger range than at any time in our history and we are expecting to set the gold standard on low/no choice within grocery. One of the fantastic new brands we will be introducing is St Peter’s Without, which will be distributed nationally throughout our stores.”

Steve Magnall, chief executive of St Peter’s Brewery, told OLN Tesco is “without question” being the bravest of its competitors in setting up a dedicated sector for low and no alcohol products next year.

“It did the same for world beers,” he said. “It makes sense for customers and this is what will drive the growth in this sector.”

Magnall also predicts the UK’s no/low-alcohol sector is set to see rapid growth over the next few years, despite currently lagging behind many other nations.

“In the UK the market for alcohol-free is just 1% at the moment, but I think it will be 10% within five to 10 years.

“If you look at consumer trends, then over the next few years millennials, who drink less than previous generations, will be older, while my generation of 45 to 54-year-olds will be more comfortable drinking no alcohol.

“Also, if drink-driving regulations change in England and Wales, then suddenly it will become a more acceptable norm. It’s not just Dry January now either, there are other campaigns such as Go Sober for October.

“We are now brewing more St Peter’s Without than some of our normal lines. Every two or three weeks we brew another batch of Without and this is not an insubstantial amount.”

St Peter’s Without, which was launched in August 2016, will go into Tesco nationally from March.

It is already in the off-trade in the Alcohol-Free Shop and in November it secured listings across 1,200 Nisa stores. It also went into Whole Foods Market stores at the start of this month.

Leanne Jarrett, buyer for Nisa, said: “The main pull for me is that we don’t list anything else like Without. We only have alcohol-free lagers, whereas Without is an alcohol-free ale, so it is quite different.

“We’re finding our millennial customers who are interested in craft beers are also becoming healthier and drinking less, so we see this as an opportunity to provide something new for our members to tap into.”