Denmark-based non-alcoholic beverage maker Ish is focusing on retail growth this year, labelling the off-premise “incredibly interesting for the non-alcoholic segment”.

The Copenhagen-headquartered company produces non-alcoholic spirits, wines and ready-to-drink cocktails.

Founder Morten Sørensen, who will be speaking at the Arena Non-Alcoholic Beverage Strategies Conference 2024, said the retail sector was “key” for introducing new customers to the non-alcoholic sphere.

“The retail segment is growing quite tremendously because the big national retailers in the different markets are making space for non-alcs,” he told Just Drinks.

“So we just see that these channels are really ready for it because the consumer is and because most non-alcoholic consumption happens at home. The retail segment is incredibly interesting for the non-alc segment.”

ISH’s main market is the Nordic region but Sørensen said the US is soon to take over as number one – the US non-alcoholic spirits market could be worth $13.3m by 2027, according to research from GlobalData, Just Drinks’ parent company.

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By GlobalData

However, Sørensen added Ish’s presence in the US up until now has been “very on-premise heavy”.

“We are looking more towards retail in the US as well but we’ve kind of held our horses a little bit on that because we really want the market to be ready for it. The US is a tremendous market but it also happens a lot slower because it is so big.

“When we talk about the large national retailers [in the US] we want to make sure that there’s room on the shelf, that the segment is ready for it and then we can create a good case.”

Founded in 2018, ISH’s alcohol-free spirits, wines and ready-to-drink cocktails are available in 20 markets but the company is not looking for further international expansion this year.

Sørensen said: “2023 was a year where we grew significantly, but at the same time, not at the speed that we expected. We wanted even more growth, but it was actually a really good year in terms of manifesting in existing channels.

“What we learned in 2023 was that actually, we don’t need ten more markets, we don’t need all of that. We need depth in existing markets. And we’re in about 20 markets now, so that’s plenty to focus on.”

He added a chief focus for ISH this year will be its canned-cocktail range, which “will be the most growing category” out of its portfolio – of which currently wines, spirits and cocktails hold an equal share.

Sørensen said RTDs are a “very affordable way to dip your toes in the brand new universe” and “are incredibly important” for ISH.

“We’re very retail heavy so creating that trial in the market and the cans have been an incredible strategy for us, because we’re converting people that way,” he said.

“The big task is always getting liquid on lips, it’s getting [people] to try the product.”

Last year, UK-based LoNo producer Caleño Drinks launched ready-to-drink alcohol-free cocktails with a similar intention. Founder Ellie Webb said: “You’d be hard-pressed to talk to any non-alcoholic producer who won’t tell you that trial is the biggest challenge.”

ISH is set to complete its final fundraising round by this summer as it is targeting $1.6m before the company is set to become profitable, Sørensen said.

Find out more: Arena Non-Alcoholic Beverage Strategies Conference 2024