Why do non-alc drinks cost what they do?
By Samantha Manning, Founder, Monday Distillery
I’m often asked why modern non-alc beverages don’t cost the same as sweet soft drinks like Coke or lemonade. Instead, they’re closer in price to their ready-to-drink counterparts in bottle shops. The perception is that the alcohol content (and associated tax) is what makes these other drinks more expensive, while non-alc is just a matter of popping in some flavours and fizz and you’re ready to roll. It’s then thought that new non-alc producers are making crazy mark-ups by pricing things similarly to everything else in the adult drink space.
There are a few things happening behind the scenes to explain why this isn’t the case, so I thought I’d lay them out below to help explain.
The first key factor is that the creation and production of these drinks is complex and requires a lot of work, trial, and error to deliver the feeling that you are enjoying your favourite beverage, minus the alcohol content. For Monday Distillery, doing this without sugar is a labour of love that adds an extra layer of complexity. We really focus on the overall drinking experience. It’s not just about flavour. It’s the colour, the smell, the taste, the mouth-feel - every element of the alcohol drinking process is explored. It’s a challenging process to recreate this in a non-alc form, but a challenge we gladly accept.
We have to work with cutting-edge technology to be able to provide this overall experience of enjoying an adult drink. The ‘spirit’ profile is possible with advanced innovations, where flavours are mimicked using natural aromatic compounds that deliver an intense flavour experience, without alcohol. For example, our ‘gin’ is steeped in a wide range of botanicals and has the overarching flavour profile of juniper. These are flavours that can be replicated in a way to give a flavour that is similar to the real thing. It costs more to do than adding a mix of sugar and artificial flavours, but the result is well worth the extra effort.
Next is tax. While some producers do pay alcohol excise, there are numerous excise rebates and subsidy schemes in place to help support the alcohol industry as a whole. This in turn helps them keep overall costs down - a luxury that non-alc producers don’t have, especially smaller, family-run business like Monday Distillery.
Finally, most of the exciting brands in the non-alc space are independent producers like us. We are headed up by my partner Haydn and I. We run the business and have complete control of each product from inception through to distribution. When it comes to price points, smaller independent makers will always retail at a higher price when compared to the big drinks companies, because we pay more for things like ingredients and shipping. Larger corporations enjoy economies of scale and discounts for buying in bulk. Not something we can achieve (yet!).
Monday Distillery is very fortunate that a lot of our customers really understand this whole process, and are searching for a high quality, adult beverage without the alcohol content. We have dedicated fans who know that our product is a true testament to the hard work and passion we put into creating it for them to enjoy. It’s high spirits and clear minds for us here at Monday.
There will always be those out there who question the cost of non-alc beverages and compare them to other non-alc options, but I hope that this perceived notion can be overturned as the category continues to rise and more education and knowledge is gained about the industry.
The non-alc space is only going to continue to grow and we are so happy to be a part of this exciting category. Here’s cheers to good health, great experiences and amazing flavours.