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Duty coincides with drinking trends says Kingsland Drinks

Published:  24 November, 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, independent UK supplier, Kingsland Drinks, has revealed its insights on key areas to watch out for in 2024, looking at incoming drinks trends in wine, spirits and RTDs.

The report reveals how many of the current drinks trends overlap, such as the August wine reforms, which will disproportionately affect wines with higher abvs, coinciding with a more general shift into mindful drinking.

Value for money is also a primary concern for UK drinkers, especially during a cost-of-living crisis. Whilst many consumers, according to Kingsland, are ‘drinking less’ plenty are also ‘drinking better’, i.e. choosing their premium drinks more carefully, whether it be at home or when going out.

Value for money

With many Brits reducing their consumption in hospitality venues, the opportunity for retailers is clear, according to Kingsland

“We know from previous economic downturns that some consumer groups will trade down within their existing supermarket shop, looking for lower priced items, yet others will shop around and buy their wines and spirits when they are on promotional offers or look online for discounts,” said Jo Taylorson, head of marketing and product management, Kingsland Drinks.

“Value and well-priced premium products are the order of the day here, and getting your mix right will keep consumers on the price ladder,” she added.

Alternative formats

Canned RTDs have been met with an explosion of popularity in 2023 and this is set to grow even further in the year ahead, according to the report.

Like the craft beer boom before, canned RTDs have landed into retail with bright, eye-catching packaging designs, purse-friendly deals and discounts alongside punchier RRPs helping to drive spend.

“They’re loved especially by urbanites and those who crave convenience and simplicity, looking for affordable drinks to suit their lifestyle and current trends,” Taylorson said.


Wine reforms meet mindful drinking 

The duty changes introduced by the government in August have forced producers, importers and retailers to speed up development and innovation in wines with lower abvs. Alongside this, some consumer groups are actively cutting down alcohol consumption or moderating for different drinking occasions.

Kingsland suggests this will continue in apace in 2024, as illustrated by its own brand partners.

“For example, earlier this year, Andrew Peace expanded its UK portfolio of Australian wines and introduced a range of new lower abv skus. Maintaining the excellent value and quality Andrew Peace is well known for, the wines tap into the trend for lower abv wines to moderate alcohol consumption, while addressing recent duty changes the wider industry is navigating,” Taylorson said. 

“Critically, they don’t replace the brand’s existing range, but instead make it more attractive to consumers,” she added.

Asian flavours

Kingsland’s onsite NPD team, which researches and tests new flavour combinations, profiles and liquids, is confident vodka will continue to grow in 2024, as gin consumers shift categories.

Equally, tequila’s stronghold in the on-trade will start to very much take hold at home according to the report.

However, most notably of all, Kingsland’s insights team expects to see Asian flavours such as yuzu, citrus notes such as pink grapefruit, and florals such as blossom, rose and hibiscus come to the fore in 2024.

No & low

As health concerns continue to grow, consumers are expected to double down on mindful activities.

“Contemporary drinkers are moving away from sweet, sugary alcohol-free wines or spirits, and looking for satisfying, stylish grown-up drinks that don’t compromise on taste,” said Taylorson.

“In the past, non-alcoholic drinks were an option for those who do not drink alcohol, such as designated drivers or pregnant people, but this is no longer the case and looking to 2024, we expect these drinks to become even more mainstream, with creative zero alcohol spirits (such as tequila), RTDs and wine-based drinks using botanicals, herbs and spices, citrus and exotic fruits,” she added. 

Alternative formats

Bag-in-box wines have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, predominantly due to changes in lifestyles, budgets and circumstances. BiB has seen a surge in demand as casual at-home drinkers have recognised the benefits in terms of convenience, freshness, quality and value for money. 

“At Kingsland Drinks, we have taken some of our most popular wines into the bag in box format and several of our customers have diversified into the format too to tap into the opportunity,” Taylorson said.

“In fact, our site at Irlam now operates on a 180 million litres filling capacity on our bottling lines, spanning various formats from 187ml to 1.5L, 2.25L and 3L boxed wines, no and low spirits, spirits, and red, white and rosé wines,” she added.

Emerging regions

Eastern Europe has been the wine region to watch in recent years, with wines from Romania, Bulgaria and Greece presenting great value in the mainstream market. However, Ukraine, according to Kingsland, is the emerging territory set to take the spotlight in 2024. 

“Earlier this year, we signed a landmark deal to import and distribute six Bolgrad wines from Ukraine into the UK drinks market,” said Taylorson.

“Bolgrad is a well-known favourite in Ukraine, and is the number one brand for still wines, and while the brands have a premium positioning (RRP from £10) we know British audiences ill be astounded by the high quality of both the native and international varietals. 

“We’re expecting to see more wines from Ukraine landing on British shelves in the year ahead and we’re excited about the potential the country’s wine industry is showing under such difficult circumstances,” she added.

Summer of sport 

The summer of 2024 is expected to give the hospitality trade a very welcome boost, with the Paris Summer Olympics, Euro 2024 in Germany, and other national and international football, rugby, tennis and cycling tournaments driving alcohol sales. 

According to Kingsland, this uplift will extend into at-home drinking as well.

“Viewing parties in the home and garden are set to dominate the sporting season, with alcohol a key component of a successful screening,” said Taylorson.

“BiB wines for sharing or for splitting over several occasions, cans, RTDs and crowd-pleasing wines are set to be the big winners over the summer months, so retailers should ensure they’ve done their research and refreshed drinks fixtures ahead of time,” she added.

With variable kick-off times across the summer sporting events, there might also be a trend for daytime and early evening gatherings in the home and more informal parties rather than high-tempo big nights out to nightclubs or bars. 

As a result, laid-back, casual, easy-drinking beverages could well be in demand for the summer of 2024 and beyond.