Non-alcoholic beer maintains double-digit growth in sales

March 29, 1992|By Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- Non-alcoholic beer, once scoffed at as a weak link in the brewing industry, is carving out a comfortable niche with strong sales increases credited to increasing health consciousness and socially responsible drinking.

While beer industry sales have flattened over the last four years, the non-alcoholic segment -- beer with less than 0.5 percent alcohol -- has posted double-digit increases.

"I think people are just more health conscious right now. They don't consume as much alcohol as they have in the past," said Max Kerstein, publisher of trade publication Beverage Bulletin in the Los Angeles-area city of Beverly Hills.

Nationally, sales of 31-gallon barrels of non-alcoholic beer rose 32 percent in 1991, according to New York-based Market Watch. But the segment makes up less than 1 percent of total beer sales.

One brand that survived the end of Prohibition is Kingsbury, brewed by G. Heileman Brewing Co. in LaCrosse, Wis. Today Kingsbury is joined by about 34 other brands in the non-alcoholic segment, with Miller Brewing Co.'s Sharp's the leader in market share followed by Anheuser-Busch Inc.'s O'Doul's.

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