‘A trend is starting’: France leading way in alcohol-free drinks boom | France

When Nicole, a retired executive assistant, started preparing for a New Year’s get-together with family and friends, the first thing she purchased was an Artisan bottle of non-alcoholic French gin.

“There’s something in the air right now,” said the 71-year-old. “I used to smoke a lot. Times have changed. Young people are finding alternatives. It’s also benefiting us old people who are recovering from bad habits.”

France is one of the fastest growing markets in the global boom in non-alcoholic beverages. The proliferation of start-ups producing alcohol-free spirits, wines, cocktails and beers marks the departure in a country with a vast alcohol industry and President Emmanuel Macron who is very supportive of wine. A review of the wine praised it: “I drink wine every day, every day and every night.” A growing number of major vineyards are producing alcohol-free options in addition to standard production, with young French developers inventing new forms of alcohol-free rum and gin, Large companies such as Pernod Ricard are investing in this sector.

Augustine Laborde of The Drinking Peacock. Photo: Laura Stephens/The Guardian

Le Paon qui Bois, north of Paris, opened this year and was the first wine cellar in France to specialize in 100% non-alcoholic beverages, and was busy heading into the new year. Young customers in their 20s to his 30s watched his 400 beverages, including up to 50 non-alcoholic sparkling wines that he could offer in place of champagne.

Augustin Laborde launched the shop after a career in international human rights. He quit alcohol during the coronavirus lockdown, but said France’s alcohol-free market was about more than people wanting to stay sober. He said. “About 80% of our customers still drink alcohol, but they are interested in switching to non-alcoholic. but only 20%.”

Anna, 29, a digital project manager, says while browsing the shop: It used to be considered very strange, but that is starting to change. Drinking water all night has never been so fun. The new drinks are innovative and it’s nice not to be infantilized by having the only option of drinking Coke. “

Sommelier Felix Bonnard, who ran a restaurant in central Paris, had already created a tasting menu that paired dishes with homemade non-alcoholic beverages, including fermented drinks and unusual juices. “It’s an advancement that even non-drinkers can now offer the pleasure of pairing a particular drink with a dish,” he said. “We’re in a really pivotal moment. A trend is starting. People are interested in non-alcoholic beverages, even if they’re drinking alcohol.”

Susie Goldspink of IWSR Drinks Market Analysis said France is one of the fastest growing non-alcoholic markets and is marked by high levels of new consumers, especially young people. “Last year 14% of consumers said they would abstain, this year she reached 20%. French abstainers are the youngest age group, Generation Z, compared to other markets. likely to be,” she said.

Tasting at Le Paon qui Bois, an alcohol-free wine cellar in Paris, France
The non-alcoholic beverage market is booming globally. Photo: Laura Stephens/The Guardian

She said the alcohol-free innovation was born within the established culture of drinking wine. I want to be in the mood, but I don’t necessarily want alcohol to accompany me.”

Calixte Payan, one of France’s new young producers, is the first to create alcohol-free spirits using genuine French gin and rum. An expert in Grasse, France’s perfume capital, extracts the alcohol and then his team recreates the drink using complex distillation techniques at a historic distillery near Lyon. The drink was voted Best Non-Alcoholic Rum in the World last year in London and this year in San Francisco. “It’s still early days in France, but the demand for these beverages is so great that there is a huge opportunity. Go to and ask for alcohol-free products… France is globally recognized for its alcohol – fine wines and champagnes – and it could also be recognized for its non-alcoholic drinks. There is still work to be done, but people like us are trying to give consumers the best possible experience.”

Karima Lounis is responsible for marketing JNPR, a French non-alcoholic brand made from juniper berries in Normandy, with tastings throughout France. She said that France’s temperance movement is also a sugar-free movement. “People don’t want sugar in their drinks, so I’m surprised to find out that these drinks can be made without sugar,” she said. I was surprised at how many young people in Japan want to quit drinking.”

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