The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

The Shout NZ Leaders Forum Series – Lauren Mentjox, DB Breweries

As the New Zealand liquor industry continues to rebuild after COVID-19, we asked executives to reflect on 2023 and share their insights for the year ahead.

Lauren Mentjox
Corporate Affairs Director, DB Breweries

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know what’s just around the corner.

Kiwis saw this at the beginning of last year when extreme weather events around the country wreaked havoc during the height of summer, in what is traditionally the industry’s busiest time of year.

2023 was meant to be the comeback year for New Zealand post-COVID, but nobody took into account flooding in Auckland and a cyclone in the Hawke’s Bay. So, life is unpredictable.

In saying this, there are some longer-term trends we’ve seen that I think will only increase in importance over time.

With an increase in natural disasters and growing consumer consciousness about the use of resources and the long term effects of emissions, sustainability – both environmental and social – will continue to be a key issue shaping the liquor landscape in 2024 and beyond.

Consumers are increasingly choosing products that align with their values and are more environmentally-friendly. As a result, they are holding businesses to higher standards of ethics, sustainability, and inclusivity.

There will be more emphasis on social sustainability and responsibility and how we can measure progress as an industry.

Alcohol manufacturers are already doing a lot in the environmental space, and we can expect to see further improvements in packaging design to reduce waste and lessen the weight of products and bring down transport costs and carbon emissions.

Wellbeing and health-consciousness is another area ripe for innovation, and this will continue to influence the industry.

Stats NZ figures show the way Kiwis drink is undergoing a cultural shift, with the consumption of beer, wine and spirits declining by 3.1% in the past year.

Overall, we are drinking over 25% less than we were in the 1970s and this has been reflected in a surge in demand for low and no alcohol products as consumers move towards healthier lifestyles.

In terms of beer, low-carb is the fastest growing segment in this ‘better for me’ space, and we see low-carb continuing to gain in popularity in the coming years.

Tightening the household budget will continue to be a key theme in 2024, which means consumers will be even more careful in what they choose to drink as they look for quality over quantity.

My hope for the remainder of summer is fingers crossed the good weather holds, as our local hospitality venues definitely deserve a break!

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