Shifting beverage consumption patterns along with a rising preference for low alcohol content beverages are the key factors propelling non-alcoholic beer demand. Increasing health awareness among consumers towards the harmful effects of alcohol coupled with changing lifestyle is also expected to propel industry growth. Considerable shift of young individuals to purchase a variety of alcohol-free or low alcohol variants is expected to drive product penetration. The changing demographic trends has also provided a positive outlook for non-alcoholic beer market.
But taste is still a major issue which has held back a real boom of non-alcoholic beer. The biological or physical processes that are currently used to remove or prevent alcohol formation often also remove the flavours of beer or alter the flavour profile of the finished product. A group of researchers has developed an innovative process using gas stripping, adsorption and desorption technologies which remove only the alcohol while preserving all other flavours in beer.
The gas stripping technology works by passing a gas stream of carbon dioxide through the beer storage tank which entraps volatile substances like ethanol, water, and the flavour-carrying molecules. The enriched gas stream is then channelled through a column reactor that is filled with a zeolite material – known as a fixed-bed adsorber – which adsorbs the ethanol molecules while allowing the water vapour and flavour molecules to circulate back to the beer storage tank.
Since there is no direct contact between the liquid beer and the column, the de-alcoholised beer can be bottled without any further processing. The column adsorber is not altered by the process and can be used over long periods.
Development of low-alcohol / non-alcoholic drinks for breweries and beverage companies. The technology is also suited for other alcoholic beverages, such as wine or sparkling wine. Flavour and fragrance companies may also consider this technology suitable for isolation of specific volatile substances.
In 2017, the Global Beer Market was valued at USD 590 billion, and is projected to reach USD 680 billion by 2025. Today, while still a niche market, the global non-alcoholic beer market is forecasted to grow from USD >13 billion in 2016 to USD >25 billion in 2024 with a CAGR of 6-7%.