- Non-alcoholic spirits company Aplós raised $5.5 million in a Series A funding round, the company said in a statement.
- The startup said it will use the funding round, led by McCarthy Capital, for distribution expansion in bars, restaurants and retail locations.
- Global sales of no- and low-alcohol category value topped $11 billion in 2022, with growth expected to accelerate in the coming years, according to data from IWSR.
As the popularity of nonalcoholic offerings increases, upstarts such as Aplós are moving quickly to expand.
While sales of low- and no-alcohol are small compared to the nearly $200 billion U.S. alcohol market, the category is benefiting from consumers who value healthier offerings and are less likely to imbibe regularly, particularly during the workweek.
Aplós launched in 2020 as a mixologist-crafted, non-alcoholic spirit infused with sustainable, organically-grown broad-spectrum hemp. It was designed to be an alcohol alternative without the calories and hangover, the company said.
“Aplós was born out of a desire to reimagine the cocktail occasion for a new era — to create nonalcoholic spirits that provide an experience, quality, and functional effect on par with the world’s most sophisticated traditional spirits,” David Fudge, co-founder and CEO of Aplós, said in a statement.
While much of the attention in nonalcoholic offerings has focused on beer, including Heineken 0.0, Guinness 0.0, Budweiser Zero and products from startup Athletic Brewing, spirits have also made inroads.
- In 2019, Diageo acquired a “significant majority” in London-based Seedlip, the world’s first distilled nonalcoholic spirits brand.
- Soda and coffee giant Keurig Dr Pepper acquired the global rights to ready-to-drink cocktail brand Atypique a year ago.
- In January, Molson Coors debuted its first nonalcoholic ready-to-drink cocktail line, Roxie.
But not all products have been a success. Low-alcohol aperitifs maker Haus, which used fruits, herbs and botanicals to make aperitifs like Pomegranate Rosemary, Lemon Lavender and Grapefruit Jalapeño, shut down after a funding round failed to materialize.
Venture capital funding for food and beverage upstarts during the last four quarters — both the amount of money raised and the number of deals — is down significantly from the same period the year before, according to data provided to Food Dive recently by PitchBook.
Still, with the nonalcoholic beverage category on the rise, beverage companies are likely to remain involved as they look for avenues of growth. This is especially important as they aim to build their customer base for the future. The nonalcoholic beverage category is expected to grow by 27.6% among 21- to 24-year-olds by 2025, according to IWSR research cited by Molson Coors.