Dry January Is Officially a Year-Round Phenomenon

New data and surveys suggest the non-alcoholic market (led by beer) is growing steadily

A person drinking a non-alcoholic beer at a bar. NA beer is helping Dry January become a year-round phenomenon.
Non-alcoholic beer is leading the way to year-round booze-free drinking.
Josh Olalde/Unsplash

People who abstain or limit their alcohol consumption appear to be keeping up their healthy habits beyond Dry January. Per Axios, the search term “Dry February” is being Googled more than ever in the U.S., with search interest up 30% over February 2023. Also, the country’s best-selling beer at Whole Foods is now the non-alcoholic brand Athletic Brewing, and adults under 35 are drinking less than they have in decades, according to a recent Gallup survey.

Axios credits the non-alc interest to people prioritizing health concerns related to longevity and sleep. Admittedly, a lot of the information presented here is anecdotal or based on people’s survey responses and internet searches. However, those beer sales are real, even beyond Athletic’s numbers: Non-alcoholic beer sales were around $42.7 million in January, over three times their sales just four years ago.

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This is good news! We’ve been worried that Dry January (or Sober October) has been more of a “viral challenge” phenomenon rather than a sustainable solution for people who want to drink less. Besides health concerns and waning interest among younger drinkers, credit is also due to non-alcoholic producers crafting better products — even alcohol brands are getting into the game (the new Amaro Lucano Non-Alcoholic is nearly as good as its boozy counterpart).

Although older drinkers (over 35) are drinking the same or even more, the youth trend toward teetotaling could suggest some long-term habit changes. Per that recent Gallup poll, younger adults who drink are also less likely than they were in the past to say they had an alcoholic drink within the past seven days. As well, fewer young drinkers today (22%) report they sometimes drink “more than they think they should.”

What’s next? The non-alc market has to figure out growth beyond beer — while NA blush wine and ready-to-drink cocktails showed the highest percentage gains in January in year-to-year sales (up 117.7% and 76.6%, respectively), they represent a small fraction of the booze-free market (perhaps because of pricing). Beer represents 75% of NA purchases, and even then, that figure only represents 1% of the total beer market (in volume), according to Nielsen figures.

It’s a growing market, but we’re still dealing with some modest — dare we say sobering — statistics.


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