Why kombucha is one to watch in the low/no alcohol market

By Emma Thackray, Booch & Brew

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/HelinLoik-Tomson
Pic:getty/HelinLoik-Tomson

Related tags: kombucha, NABLAB

Kombucha offers drinkers more complexity than your average alcohol-free alternative, writes Emma Thackray, co-founder of Booch & Brew, in this guest article.

A dramatic increase in demand for alcohol alternatives has led to rapid growth in the low/no alcohol sector, and statistics show the market grew by a staggering £78,000,000 from 2017 to 2019. Consumers are choosing their beverages more wisely and, recently, we have seen a shift towards options like kombucha, offering drinkers more complexity and benefits than your average alcohol-free alternative.

Kombucha has a unique, sophisticated taste and comes in a variety of flavours, making it a great beverage alternative for those wanting something refreshing and interesting to drink without the headache the morning after. 

Flavour

Kombucha’s vast array of different flavours means there is a variety to win over every consumer. From the crisp taste of unflavoured kombucha, which has notes of apple and lemon, to kombucha flavoured with strawberry, ginger, elderflower and even hops, the possibilities are endless.

The underlying flavour of the sparkling drink is tart, with a hint of sweetness and a light fizziness, and this gives it a similar taste to many alcoholic beverages, such as cider and wine. The fermentation process of kombucha lends it a complexity that means drinkers can still enjoy that tang, without the alcohol.

Versatility

Kombucha is incredibly versatile and is being increasingly used in bar settings as an alternative to traditional mixers and cocktail bases.

Unlike alcohol, kombucha is socially acceptable to drink at any time of day. Some prefer to drink it in the morning on an empty stomach, as it gives a healthy boost of probiotics and antioxidants to start the day on a high. Others reach for a cold glass when they hit an afternoon slump, as its light carbonation with a touch of sugar can provide a much-needed energy boost.

Therefore, kombucha sales are not only limited to bars and pubs. The product can be sold in the chilled drink section at supermarkets, convenience stores and coffee shops to offer an alternative to coffee or high sugar energy drinks.

Kombucha is also a great option to sell to consumers as a meal accompaniment as it is known to aid digestion, and due to its carbonation it can also help you feel fuller – a helpful tactic when trying to lose weight. This unique selling point sets it apart from its alcohol counterparts, like beer, wine and cider, which can be extremely calorific in comparison.

The health benefits

kombucha emma
Emma Thackray

During its fermentation process, kombucha becomes abundant in organic acids such as acetic acid, gluconic acid and glucuronic acid.

These acids are great for the body’s detoxification process, as they enhance liver function, meaning it can work to its optimal level to remove pollutants and chemicals from the body[1]​.

Gluconic acid also supports the growth of bifidobacterica[2]​ in the gut, which aids digestion and gut health. The fermentation process also makes kombucha rich in antioxidants, supporting the immune system, reducing inflammation and protecting cells from oxidative stress.

The fermentation process also makes kombucha naturally low in sugar, as the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) that is used during the brewing process consumes the sugar and transforms it into the healthy organic acids outlined above.

Kombucha’s popularity has soared over the past few years as many consumers switch their alcoholic beverages for a refreshing glass of ‘Booch’ and, as the world becomes even more health focused, we will no doubt see a further increase in Kombucha sales.

Kombucha is just one of an array of exciting alcohol alternatives so, while alcohol will most certainly maintain its large share of the drinks market, the tide towards other options that aren’t just your standard orange juice or lemonade, has definitely turned.

Booch & Brew is an organic craft kombucha brewery based on the outskirts of Manchester, UK. Its products contain 0.5% ABV. 

booch and brew

[1]https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19476337.2017.1410499

[2]https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/08910609409141362

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