San Miguel turns to gluten-free and no alcohol beers to further boost growth

San Miguel is seeking to build on impressive UK growth figures by rolling out a wider portfolio of SKUs, including gluten-free and no-alcohol variants. 

Owner Carlsberg says the brand grew volume sales by 10% in the UK in the past year and it believes San Miguel is now the most widely distributed world beer in the off-trade.

It is launching a gluten-free offering in Tesco next month and hopes to increase distribution of San Miguel 0.0 amid consumer trends towards moderation.

Senior brand manager Dharmesh Rana told DRN: “At a total level, I believe we are the most widely distributed world beer brand. The opportunities are on variants such as 0.0 and gluten-free, where we are pushing out a little bit harder. The growth will also be in formats. San Miguel operates can and bottle and there will be the opportunity to grow bottle sales. 

“People are more conscious about what they consume. One in four millennials don’t consume alcohol. From a religious point of view, Muslim people don’t consume alcohol. There is also a lifestyle choice. 

“Alcohol-free beer is a huge opportunity. We are very underdeveloped in the UK if you look at other markets. Take Spain as an amazing example – it is accepted to have an alcohol-free beer instead of a cola. The UK has a long way to go before it gets to that stage, but that’s happening in many markets across Europe.”

San Miguel is one of three key brands for Carlsberg UK, along with Brooklyn and its eponymous Danish lager. 

“The proof is in the pudding in terms of its performance – 10% growth year on year, value ahead of volume,” said Rana. 

“Brands such as San Miguel and Mahou are driving value back into the category because they are priced higher and consumers are prepared to pay more for these brands because of what they stand for. 

“They are brands that are connecting with consumers, which is why we are growing as fast as we are. 

“It’s a very cluttered category, so people have to make that choice and they are choosing brands like San Miguel because they love them.” 

Rana continued: “There are growth areas in world and craft categories. The craft beer world has done a fantastic job of getting people to reappraise what beer is all about. The world category is bringing it to more of a mainstream audience. 

“We forecast world beer will continue to grow, as travel is just going to become so much easier as time goes by. You can just get on your phone and learn about cultures and people.”

He added: “Last year we did just over 1 million hl and it’s pretty evenly split between on-trade and off-trade. That is one of the really positive things about San Miguel, that it has that appeal at home and at the pub.

“Gluten-free launches in Tesco in September. San Miguel is a very strong brand. Tesco really likes our brand and sees the opportunity for that trade up from lower-end beers, and people are spending money in that space.”