Non-alcoholic beer sales have in recent years increased annually in Estonia, making up almost a tenth of sales from the major alcohol producers. The same applies to alcohol-free ciders and other drinks, and the coronavirus pandemic has had no negative effect on the trend, according to a report on ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK).
"The spring isolation period led to big increases in store-bought alcohol sales, though bars were largely closed and [foreign] shoppers also disappeared from the border," Tarmo Noop, manager at one of the major breweries, A Le Coq, told AK, adding that sales remained strong through summer.
More and more alcohol-free beers, ciders and other drinks have been both produced and bought in Estonia, he added, noting that non-alcoholic "spirits" are even on sale now.
A Le Coq's sales portfolio has seen a 30 percent growth in non-alcoholic beers, ciders and "long drinks" of 30 percent this year alone, Nopp added.
Producers say that increases in quality and choice, as well as improved public health awareness and behavior, are the main factors behind the trend.
Non-alcoholic beers have seen their sales more than triple in three years, Jaan Härms, board member at Saku, added.
"And if we look at the whole market, then in the summer months the share of non-alcoholic beers in the beer market stands at seven to eight percent," Härms added.
Tarmo Noop said that A Le Coq's sales were actually slightly higher than at the same time last year, in spite, or perhaps equally because, of the pandemic.
Kaimo Niitaru, alcohol buyer at supermarket chain Prisma, agreed, adding that last year's excise duty slash was behind the growth as well.
"In general, alcohol sales have been successful this year. This was certainly due to a certain increase in sales in March, but the government's excise policy has also had a rather positive effect on sale, which have clearly increased compared to last year," he said.
Alcohol sales in Tartu County are currently forbidden after 11 p.m. following a police order late last week and in response to a recent coronavirus outbreak in Estonia's second city. Stores stop selling alcohol after 10 p.m. across Estonia.
Editor: Andrew Whyte