Tesco is hoping to steal a march on rivals by becoming the first retailer to list a new range of lower-strength beers.

From next week, stores will stock a set of 12 new or reformulated beers, all at 2.8% abv. The beers, which benefit from a lower duty rate than higher strength brews as a result of tax breaks announced by the government last year, will be exclusive to the retailer for six months. 

The move follows its revamp of the lower-alcohol wine category last September, when it introduced a number of new wines.

Tesco said the roll-out was “in response to a continued uplift in sales for the no and low-alcohol category” and that Christmas sales of Tesco’s lighter-alcohol category increased by 3.4% to 1.9 million bottles on the same period in 2010. 

It added that value sales of no and low-alcohol beers were up 5% across take-home, with some 15 million adults consuming the product last year, according to Nielsen figures for the year to November 26. 

Gavin Warburton, Tesco beer category manager, said: “As customers become more aware of the effects of alcohol and are increasingly concerned with social responsibility, lower-alcohol products are becoming a more popular option. Currently four brands account for 87% of the UK’s no and low beer category’s sales and, with the launch of these exclusive products, Tesco aims to give consumers more choice.”  

The beers joined a line-up of 2.8% abv beers at a generic tasting attended by MPs and organised by the All Parliamentary Beer Group at the House of Commons this week. 

Speaking at the event, the group’s chairman and MP for Burton, Andrew Griffiths, said: “The brewing industry has been very innovative and really grasped the idea [of making low-alcohol beers]. I think the industry should be proud of the fact it can develop these beers. If the industry acts responsibly then government will support it in its endeavours.”

Tesco’s new range includes Beck’s Premier Light, Guinness Mid-Strength and Fuller’s Mighty Atom.