The production of grain alcohol in the UK has many uses, not least in medicinal and pharmaceutical preparations. But for distillers using it in beverages, the latest trends in UK consumption may have a significant impact on evolving business models.
Research from the Universities of Kent and Leeds has found that Generation Z has a lower level of alcohol consumption than any other age group in the UK adult population, with the reasons for this ranging from concern about wider global issues to a greater range of leisure choice.
The impact of the wider issues includes the pressure to perform well in education, develop a career, manage time well, protect the environment and handle the cost-of-living crisis.
In addition, as well as having more leisure choices that don’t involve drinking, there is more consciousness about healthy lifestyle choices, with lower alcohol consumption alongside more plant-based diets and concerns about the environmental impact of high consumption levels.
Professor Adam Burgess, a sociologist at the University of Kent, said: “Generation Z is mindful of the risk and uncertainties involved with excessive alcohol consumption on potential future outcomes.”
If such habits become ingrained as Generation Z gets older and are adopted by the next generation too, the overall sale of alcohol in the UK may be reduced significantly, prompting distillers to focus increasingly on new and existing export markets for future sales growth.
According to Alcohol Change, a decline in alcohol consumption in the UK is already taking place, with the overall levels being drunk dropping by 16 per cent between 2004 and 2017, with 20 per cent of the adult population never drinking.
This comes despite the fact that alcohol is more affordable than it used to be. In 2019 it was 13 per cent more affordable than in 2008 and 74 per cent more affordable than in 1987.