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Long tainted as desperately uncool, latest research from Mintel finds the market for lower alcoholic drinks (LADs) is booming, as sales here outperform the alcoholic market as a whole.
Following years of stagnant growth, sales of LADs are thriving, with value and volume having both increased by around 10% in the last two years alone.  Indeed, last year we splashed out a mouth-watering £66.3 million on the stuff, downing over 20 million litres – the equivalent of an impressive 76 pints per minute. 
“Growth in the low alcoholic drinks market has been driven by improvements in quality. These drinks offer the taste sensation not met by many sweet soft drinks today,” explains Michelle Strutton, Senior Market Analyst at Mintel.  
” an on-going national focus on anti-social binge drinking, safe driving and health issues is also driving consumer demand, as health conscious consumers cutback on their alcohol intake,”she adds.
Although the market remains small and niche, at just 0.3% of volume sales in the alcohol market, sales of these lower alcoholic varieties are outperforming the alcohol market as a whole. 
Keeping it large with lager
It is beer, which is driving sales of LADS with a share of around 80%. But as with the overall drinks market, greatest value and volume growth is occurring in the wine and cider categories.  Value sales of cider alone have doubled (100%) over the last two years, albeit from a very low base. 
“Sales of lower alcoholic drinks are going from strength to strength.  Innovation is driving the market with new launches and brand extensions, and product quality continues to improve.  Lager dominates, buoyed by investment in new lower and mid-strength variants, but cider sales are finally moving forward and wine is believed to offer great potential,” explains Michelle Strutton.
Mintel forecasts the low alcoholic drinks market will increase in value by 25% over the next five years to reach £82.7 million by 2013. Volume is expected to grow more slowly, reflecting the premiumisation of this market.