Why will the new wave of weight loss jabs give a shot in the arm to new low-and-no product development?
by Hamish Renton, Managing Director, HRA Global
I want to talk about something that is brewing in the world of health and wellness and that's about to make a significant splash in the low-and-no-alcohol industry. It's a topic that's not being discussed nearly enough.
We need to visit the fascinating world of GLP-1 agonists, or as the tabloids call them, "Fat Jab" compounds. You might recognise them as Semaglutide or Ozempic, names that have been in the headlines recently. These drugs, freshly approved by the NHS, the EU, and the States, are on the verge of changing the game.
GLP-1 agonists hit the satiety and hunger centres of the brain, dialling up that "I'm full" feeling while dialling down hunger pangs. The result? People eat smaller portions, and the dopamine-driven pleasure derived from indulging in favourite foods and drinks is dialled down too—yes, that includes soft drinks and, of course, alcohol.
The forecast for this coming year is significant as approximately 7% of the US population is projected to be on these game-changing drugs. That's a substantial number of people experiencing reduced pleasure from alcohol.
So how will that impact low/no? It means that the "drink less, drink better" trend is here to stay. When a substantial portion of the population finds less joy in alcohol, it prompts the industry to step up its game. People will be drinking less, but they'll want beverages of a higher calibre. Quality over quantity.
This presents a golden opportunity for brands developing alcohol-free beverages. With fewer calories to consume, people will be more conscious of what they drink. This paves the way for innovative, flavour-packed, and even nutritionally rich alcohol-free drinks. I predict that brands will have to compete not only on taste but also on nutritional value and uniqueness.
This trend is fascinating, and it's just the beginning. While some drinks industry giants might be playing it cool, the numbers don't lie. Walmart, a heavyweight in retail, has already noticed a decline in alcohol sales—fewer units sold, fewer calories consumed, and prices on the rise.
So, what can we expect? Smaller portions and better quality in the food and drink industry, yes, but for no-and-low-alcohol beverages, it's all about elevating the drinking experience.
With 11 million doses of these 'fat jab' compounds administered monthly and up to 10% of the population soon to be on board, this trend is here to stay. We need to think about the consequences and innovations this will need, as this is a topic we'll be discussing for years to come.
So, as we navigate this changing landscape, let's raise our glasses (of quality low/no beverages, of course) to the innovative brands that will be working hard to bring more variety to the shelves.
Cheers to a future where choice in alcohol-free drinks knows no bounds!
In the UK, Weight loss injections (Liraglutide called 'Saxenda' and Semaglutide called 'Wegovy') are available on NHS prescription. However, there are requirements to fulfil, such as your BMI, whether you have T2 Diabetes, etc. Still, there is also growing popularity via online pharmacies where you can buy the injections after entering your BMI! There are also pharmaceutical companies that are now looking to sell directly to the consumer, such as Eli Lilly.
Hamish Renton is the managing director of leading food and drink consultancy, HRA Global. Hamish spent many years at Board level for FTSE 250 companies, including four years at Tesco as Head of Own Label, Diet and Health, where he is credited with launching the Free From, Wholefoods, Low Carb and Healthy Living ranges. Hamish writes regularly for The Grocer, Bakery and Snacks, Dairy Industry News and Dairy Innovation Magazines, chairs both the annual Allergy Show Conference and Free From Expo conference and serves as a judge for awards such as the Grocer Gold awards and the Food and Beverage Innovations Awards.