Heineken reported a near-5% lift in sales for 2016

Heineken reported a near-5% lift in sales for 2016

The CEO of Heineken has said the company will roll out a non-alcoholic version of its namesake beer brand in Europe this year, as it looks to capitalise on the trend towards low- and no- alcohol products.

Speaking to analysts on a conference call following the release of full-year 2016 results yesterday, Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said a "no-alcohol Heineken" will launch in the Netherlands in March. "[The beer] will roll out quite rapidly in the rest of Europe, because our infrastructure for producing Heineken is very European," he added. 

Van Boxmeer said the company has seen the non-alcoholic beer market grow in Europe, with particular success in Spain. "There, it's close to 10% of the total beer market, which is quite remarkable," he said. "People love to go to the tapas bar after work, but then they drive home. People prefer to have a non-alcoholic beer than having a carbonated sweet soft drink with their food."

Elsewhere, the brewer highlighted last year's roll-out of Heineken Light. In 2016, the mid-strength beer was launched in Ireland and New Zealand, was piloted in Greece and Switzerland and was introduced in Australia as Heineken 3.

In an exclusive interview with just-drinks last year, Heineken's head brewer Willem van Waesberghe said making good alcohol-free beer is the "ultimate challenge" for beer companies.

Heineken FY 2016 by region - results data