The USA continues to absorb the negative impact from alcohol abuse. Access to alcohol, lifestyle marketing, and product innovation from global manufacturers contribute the problems communities across the country face in dealing with abuse. The COVID pandemic served as a catalyst for trial and abuse of alcohol as citizens purchased record amounts of beer, wine and spirits as measured by syndicated data sources. The problems with alcohol abuse are widely known and documented ranging from impaired driving accidents, domestic violence events and obesity.

There is a movement that is starting to emerge with younger citizens in the USA where non-alcoholic spirits, beer and wine are being considered as an alternative to normal alcohol options. Major manufacturers and wholesalers, including Diageo and Republic National, are making investments in these types of products. These consumers are not looking to remove themselves from the social environments that serve alcohol, rather, they are seeking beverages that enable them to stay engaged without being ostracized. Whether this is replacing the last couple of drinks at the end of an evening or creating a complete alcohol-free lifestyle, younger consumers are beginning to experiment with new options.

When a consumer trend, followed by investment, normally lead to greater momentum for a category. However, little access to these products exists today at retail and the risk of core alcohol companies restraining the development of these alternatives is a risk worth keeping a watchful eye. In some States, specifically South Carolina, non-alcohol spirits are not authorized to be sold in liquor stores. The very alternative being sought by consumers for reasons of better health or reduce the risks associated with alcohol is banned.

Beverage manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, on-premises establishments and festivals are critical stakeholders in shaping consumer beverage consumption trends, specifically alcohol. These Stakeholders, driven largely by the current 3-Tier distribution system in the USA, control access and promotion of alcohol products. This power and influence provides the environment to potentially lock out non-alcohol alternatives and encourage consumers to purchase alcohol items.

The AAFSA Mission is to bring awareness, access and support for non-alcohol beer, wine, spirit and cocktail manufacturers. Our efforts to support this mission include

  1. Build evidence base to show the impact of retail marketing efforts have on purchase habit and how these same efforts can influence environments toward non-alcohol alternatives

    1. This evidence is essential as the basis for government policies, for retailers and wholesalers to identify opportunities to become healthier, and for the public to understand how the environment affects their drink preferences and choices.

  2. Support governments initiatives to introduce, strengthen and enforce policies, regulatory frameworks and strategies that safeguard adult from the influence of alcohol marketing early in life.

  3. Form a multi-stakeholder alliance for information exchange and collective action to reshape the beverage retail environment across USA

    1. Resale stakeholders include Retailers, bars/night clubs, and Festivals (ie Lalapalooza). Target access and awareness.

    2. Alcohol industry stakeholders include wholesalers, manufacturers. Develop and distribute alcohol alternatives.

    3. Association stakeholders include, not limited to, MADD, AA, NACS, National Bartenders Association etc.

AAFSA is currently adding members and infrastructure to support this mission.

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