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Innovation spurs growth in beer and wine

Innovation spurs growth in beer and wine

Flavoured and light beers look set for further development in 2007, alongside expected growth for sparkling wines, tastier low alcohol options and continued excitement for rosé, according to latest research from Euromonitor International.

In developed markets, stagnant beer sales are encouraging companies to innovate. Euromonitor International expects launches of lower alcohol beers to multiply in 2007, in light of greater consumer health consciousness and governments' progressively tough stance on drink driving.

2006 saw InBev release several lower-alcohol variants, including Jupiler Blue, Beck's Vier and Peeterman Artois.

In 2007, launches are expected from the likes of Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller and Molson Coors, whose non-/low-alcohol offerings are dwarfed by those of InBev and Heineken.

In addition to lower alcohol beers, flavoured beers are also becoming important for brewers attempting to shore up sales in the large but stagnant markets of the US, the UK and Germany.

Numerous launches are anticipated, as brewers target younger consumers seeking an alternative to standard lager and older consumers seeking something different.

Having seeing an impressive performance in the past couple of years, sparkling wines (excluding Champagne), are expected to peak in 2007 with growth declining thereafter as demand matures.

While Euromonitor International forecasts that various countries across all regions will see an increase, Europe stands out in terms of strongest incremental gains. Heavyweights Italy, France, UK and Russia are expected to see further momentum in 2007.

Faced with declining domestic wine consumption, a handful of French entrepreneurs have unveiled new lines of low-alcohol wines targeting young people, the health conscious and designated drivers.

With harsher drink-driving policies, stricter regulations on the advertising of alcoholic products and campaigns intensively promoting responsible drinking, these new products may well be the start of a new wave of launches elsewhere in Europe.

Several of these new wines contain five to seven percent alcohol, half as much as in most normal wines, although in France, because of their lower alcohol content of less than 8.5 per cent abv, they cannot be classified as wine. In other countries there is no such threshold, which may enable greater consumer acceptance.

Indeed, one of the reasons attributed to rosé's strong performance across various countries is the lower abv of around 10 per cent that many of these wines have.

Marketers would do well to take note of rosé's success and focus on the more enjoyable benefits of lower alcohol wine while keeping the health awareness message in the background.

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