SINGAPORE (Mar 15): After acquiring its rivals to become Europe’s largest and the world’s second-largest brewery company in recent years, Heineken International is now seeking growth by expanding its sizeable beer portfolio to include the fledgling, yet fast-growing, non-alcoholic beer segment.

Heineken 0.0 is the non-intoxicating, low calorie answer to the company’s namesake beer. It boasts just 69 calories per 330ml.

More importantly, it qualifies as a non-alcoholic lager as it contains only trace amounts of alcohol.

The beverage was first introduced in Barcelona in 2017 before launching in 14 other markets within the same year. Last month, it was officially launched in Singapore to further increase the product’s reach to 51 markets around the world.

According to the company, over a million hectolitres of Heineken 0.0 have been sold globally.

Andy Hewson, managing director of Asia Pacific Breweries (Singapore), a subsidiary of the Heineken group, says sample surveys conducted here have shown promise of consumer acceptance – although he unable to share local sales figures considering how the product has only just hit the shelves in Singapore.  

The way Hewson sees it, Heineken 0.0 is part of the group’s overarching strategy to ride on the consumer trends of health and wellbeing.

“We are a consumer insights and trends driven business. You cannot be in the brewing industry for 150 years without following consumers. So we observe trends very closely,” says the MD in a recent interview with The Edge Singapore.

Does this mean that traditional beer is no longer seen as a growth market?

Hewson denies this is the case.

“We are not launching [Heineken 0.0] because we are worried about beer. We are not launching this because beer is in decline. Beer is growing worldwide [and in Singapore],” he says.

Instead, he believes Heineken 0.0 presents an opportunity for the company to penetrate a new segment of consumers.

“Now surely here in Singapore, there is a percentage of people here who don’t drink alcohol. And we respect that. But some of those people may choose to have Heineken 0.0 [over] a normal alcohol product. Over time, we think it will connect the brand to more people,” says Hewson.

According to the MD, Heineken currently holds pole position at 50% of the local premium beer market. He reckons Heineken 0.0 will help to drive sales growth by 5% to 10% per year over the next three to five years.

Global Market Insights Inc. projects the global non-alcoholic beer market to surpass US$25 billion by 2024.

The market research and strategic consulting firm believes rising consumer awareness of the long-term effects of liquor, along with consumer preferences to avoid headaches and drowsiness, are some of the main factors that will propel the non-alcoholic beer market to grow.