Partying and congratulatory activities every Lunar New Year lead to increased demand for alcohol and beer, but this Tet, in addition to traditional alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beer has also become a popular choice.
Dang Minh Hau, owner of Han Vu Cha cha ca La Vong restaurant in Hanoi said, non-alcoholic beer was cheaper than regular beer of the same brand, contributing to high sales at the restaurant.
“We recorded excellent revenue during the year-end parties in 2023 and the first month of the current year. In December, while regular beer sold around 100 crates, we sold nearly 500 crates of non-alcoholic beer,” she said.
“Previously, our restaurant thrived during lunch hours as customer groups from nearby government offices gathered for drinks, but now people opt for quick meals and leave.”
The Law on Prevention and Control of Harmful Effects of Alcoholic Beverages has led many beer brands to engage in the production, sales and development of this beer to win market share.
Popular brands offering non-alcoholic beer on the Vietnamese market today include Heineken, Sagota, Oettinger, Bavaria, and Sapporo.
According to Global Market Insights, the global non-alcoholic beer market will exceed $25 billion by 2024.
However, the non-alcoholic beer market in Vietnam is still just starting and needs more time to be accepted by consumers and form regular consumption habits like traditional beer products.
Son Nguyen, a communications officer for a foreign beer brand, said that although the non-alcoholic beer was launched by his company in the Vietnamese market three years ago and has been very active in communicating about responsible drinking behaviour, consumption levels have not yet reached expectations.
"It still takes a lot of time to make non-alcoholic beer become a popular product because many consumers still consider it to have a bland taste and bring an experience that is not as attractive as traditional beer," said Son.
Meanwhile, Cuong Nguyen, founder and CEO of C-Brewmaster Craft Beer said, "The non-alcoholic beer products produced by C-Brewmaster are only sold in small quantities and contribute insignificantly to the company's revenue. Our purpose of continuing production is to diversify products and catch consumer trends."
Cuong Nguyen owns three craft beer factories, in Hanoi, Phu Yen and Tien Giang. His products are currently distributed mainly to high-end hotels and resorts in Vietnam, with a few exported abroad.
A representative of MM Mega Market supermarket said that since the beginning of January, beer consumption has decreased by 10-15 per cent and non-alcoholic beer products have decreased by 7-10 per cent.
Meanwhile, Bach Hoa Xanh also sells various domestic and imported non-alcoholic beers, but consumption has not met expectations.
According to Ngoc Thach, an employee of Bach Hoa Xanh store in District 7 in Ho Chi Minh City, this year customers tend to be more interested in non-alcoholic beers. "However, they are still hesitant because some brands sound unfamiliar," said Thach.
Non-alcoholic beer is beer that has had the alcohol removed or brewed to contain less alcohol than the allowable limit. Around the world, there are many different regulations regarding non-alcoholic beverages.
The US Food and Drug Administration stipulates that drinks with an alcohol content of less than 0.5 per cent can be considered non-alcoholic. In Italy, non-alcoholic beer actually contains up to 1.2 per cent alcohol. In the UK, non-alcoholic beer bottles must have an alcohol content of less than 0.05 per cent.
But many consumers still have issues with non-alcoholic beer, seeing it as not real beer, or somehow less manly.
"As someone who enjoys drinking various beers ranging from light to heavy, non-alcoholic beer didn't leave much of an impression on me after trying it for the first time. It felt quite similar to drinking fermented fruit juices. Perhaps it's a beverage more favoured by women as it's easy to drink and also not harmful to health like regular beer," said Nguyen Hai Tran, 26 years old, Vietnamese.
"In my family, my father and older brother also enjoy traditional beer, while my mother and sister-in-law only drink soft drinks, so it's unlikely that my family will consume this kind of beverage during this Tet holiday."
Despite this reputation, for many non-alcoholic beers is a fun and safe alternative.
"I've tried non-alcoholic beer before. In my country, it's not as popular as alcoholic beer, but it does have a niche market. One of the most unforgettable memories I have with non-alcoholic beer was during a summer barbecue with friends. We had a designated driver, so we decided to try some non-alcoholic options to keep things light. Surprisingly, it tasted quite similar to regular beer, and it was refreshing to have a cold drink without worrying about getting intoxicated," said Choong Chin Hooi, a 37-year-old Malaysian.
"Personally, I think non-alcoholic beer can be a great alternative for those who want to enjoy the taste of this beverage without the effects of alcohol. It's especially beneficial for people who are driving, pregnant, or simply prefer not to consume alcohol for health or personal reasons."
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