United States, New York, New York – 06-04-2019 (PRDistribution.com) — By Reynald Vito Grattagliano Arkay Beverages’s founder.
The trend of millennials cutting back on alcohol has been well documented. “Millennials Are Sick of Drinking,” The Atlantic proclaimed in April, just a few days after Vox predicted that we’d all be hearing a lot more about the “sober curious” movement. And it’s not only a generational fad: About half of U.S. adults (and two-thirds of those ages 21 to 34) say they’re trying to drink less, according to data from market-research firm Nielsen. Now beverage companies are clamoring to provide what Getaway does—fun without the booze—and major alcohol producers are some of the first in line. The U.S. market for ready-to-drink low- or no-alcohol beverages is set to grow by about 39% by 2022, according to data from the beverage market-research firm IWSR. With Budweiser and Bud Light sales faltering, parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has invested in everything from fruit juice to probiotic drinks, and has committed to making 20% of its beer volume no- or low-alcohol by 2025. In 2018, the same year it saw a 2% dip in sales, Molson Coors acquired a company selling kombucha, the fermented darling of the wellness world. Heineken and Budweiser recently rolled out no-alcohol beers, and a number of craft breweries are experimenting with low-ABV options. If the marketing for Keel, a new lower-alcohol vodka, is to be believed, these products are all part of a “moderation movement.”Reynald Vito Grattagliano was ahead of the curve in 2007 when he got the idea for Arkay, his alcohol free spirit replacement . Reynald Vito Grattagliano was inspired to produce the drinks following an episode with his 22 year-old son, who upon returning home from a party where there was ample imbibing, began to feel those certain unappealing after-effects. “He suggested that someone should create a whisky that doesn’t leave you feeling so hung-over,” explains Reynald Grattagliano.The son, of course, didn’t realize that suggestion would compel his father to not only spend the next five years of his life researching such a method, but he would spend five million dollars to make it happen.He was sure that everyone would share his vision for a grown-up, complex alcohol alternative, but after rapidly selling out of the first few thousand bottles he made in 2011,. Arkay had noticed the “big macro trend of people wanting to live healthier lifestyles” and moderating their drinking.Reynald’s perfected Arkay’s formula in 2009 and brand together before bringing the idea to the general public in November 2011 when Arkaywas launched. The drink “was not a hard sell and seven years later more than 21 million bottles were sold and a just-announced alcohol-free cocktails line later, his gamble is paying off. Reynald’s says Arkay leads the non-alcoholic category or alcohol free spirits category worldwide.Still, big alcohol isn’t exactly diluting its customer base by promoting non-alcoholic drinks. Lots of Americans still drink, and many drink too much. Roughly 56% of U.S. adults are regular drinkers, according to the latest federal data, and more than that imbibe at least occasionally. Drinking rates among young adults have declined only modestly over the past decade, and rates have held steady among those 26 and older. But the way people are drinking is changing, even if federal data doesn’t quite reflect it yet.“For me, it’s not so much about abstaining or changing. It’s more that people are demanding choices in everything they do,” says Reynald Vito Grattagliano Arkay’s founder. ‘I sell my $40 bottle of gin at Arkay that doesn’t have alcohol in it.’ It will be much normalized in that way.”The non-alcoholic beverage market has come a long way from O’Doul’s, the iconic non-alcoholic beer (which, by the way, still exists and is seeing “steady growth,” according to a company rep). For some people, going sober is now more about a curated lifestyle, rather than out of medical necessity or in response to substance abuse. Millennials, the generation driving the $4.2 trillion global wellness market, are heeding increasing warnings about the health issues tied to alcohol, like higher risks of cancer and cognitive decline. (Because of such risks, one 2018 research review even concluded that there’s no safe amount to drink.) Among regular beer drinkers who said they were consuming less, for example, 40% attributed the switch to “opting for a healthier lifestyle” in a 2019 Nielsen survey; another 17% pointed to “health-related reasons.” Young people are also reporting record-high rates of anxiety and depression, and many are choosing to ditch or cut back on alcohol, itself a depressant, as an act of self-care.These wellness warriors are looking for beverages that are generally healthier than typical bar fare, either because of what they do contain (probiotics, adaptogens, tinctures) or what they don’t (alcohol, sugar, artificial ingredients). “Low-alcohol is part of something broader,” says Reynald Vito Grattagliano, founder and vice president of Arkay Beverages’ the largest U.S. beverage alcohol free booze company. “It’s calories, it’s carbs, it’s gluten-free, it’s veggie, and it’s sugar free. It all relates to this healthier lifestyle.”Even if drinking never fades away entirely—after all, it’s deeply entrenched in nearly every culture’s traditions—there are signs that future generations will imbibe in ways their parents could only have imagined. Some advances on the horizon are far more dramatic than mocktails and seltzer water.Reynald Vito Grattagliano, of Arkay Beverages, is glad big beverage companies are starting to pay attention. Alcohol companies were quick to get on board with cocktail culture, and soda companies astutely noticed that consumers wanted healthier options—but for a long time, Reynald says, neither seemed to realize how much people wanted good replacements for booze.“Now we have so many more different choices of where we can socialize and how we spend our time. We don’t just have to go for a drink. This hole [in the market] was starting to appear,” Reynald says. “I don’t know that all the alcohol companies spotted this, or otherwise maybe they would have done more about it themselves, faster.”Write to Reynald Vito Grattagliano at Reynald@arkaybeverages.com
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