An Open Letter

 1 May 2021

To the hospitality venues of Australia,

I write this out of self-interest, but also on behalf of all those who don’t believe they have a voice; or those who don’t know that the option is available. I write this on behalf of the sober, sober curious, the health conscious, the pregnant, the drivers, those on medication – those who for one reason or another can’t or choose not to drink alcohol.

I write this because I believe we all deserve to be able to enjoy an adult beverage despite those reasons and choices. I write because as the non-alcoholic beverage industry rapidly expands, the quality options are there for you to add to your drinks list.

23% of Australians drink 1 or less drink per week. So, what are the reasons the hospitality sector is being so slow on the uptake in offering adult non-alcoholic offerings?

  1. There’s no demand. Actually, there is. People don’t know or think to ask. Up until recently I thought soda water was my only option when choosing not to drink. It wasn’t until I discovered the range of what’s actually in market that I realised, “this is what should in venues”. No venue that I’ve spoken to that has added non-alc beers and wines to their lists has regretted it. If anything, they’ve been surprised by the uptake. They’re growing.

  2. There’s no money to be made or people won’t pay. Yes. They will. The value is not in the alcohol, the value is in the experience of enjoying an adult drink just like everyone else. People pay $4 for a pot of coke, they will pay market value for non-alcoholic wine. Also, I am going to stay at a venue longer and drink way more, if I have something I can enjoy and KEEP drinking.

  3. We have a mocktail on the menu. It’s not enough. Imagine dining out and being given no choice. Imagine a list of 100’s of drinks that you were allergic to and the only one that was safe was something you didn’t enjoy and didn’t compliment a meal. Imagine there were SO many good options that COULD be offered but weren’t. Sound frustrating?

  4. The quality isn’t there. It is. Have you tried? Product development in non-alc has improved exponentially in the last few years. There are no limits. There are options for everyone. Your costomer is so excited to be given an option that they will be happy. Not sure where to start? There are those of us doing the work in the space who are happy to help. Ask,

  5. It ain’t broke. There’s an opportunity to grow. The younger generation are more mindful of what they are putting into their bodies. Alcohol consumption is on a downward trend. Be progressive, don’t get left behind

In addition to all of the above, there is a duty of care to consider. Attending events as a fresh non-drinker is daunting. Being limited to soft drinks and juices can put pressure on that newly formed resolve. Having boring options can lead to slips and dangerous situations for those who struggle to control their alcohol use.If there are great non-alcoholic options on offer, drivers, pregnant women etc are much less likely to imbibe in alcohol and make better choices.

Change is coming. We will keep asking until non-alc in hospitality becomes the norm. Let’s work together to make going out in Australia an inclusive experience for all.

Hopeful regards,

Amy Armstrong (on behalf of everyone who deserves better)