A subsidiary of the state-owned Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage JSC (Sabeco) has become the first Vietnamese brewery to produce and sell non-alcoholic beer, with the first batches of products being sold in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday.
Saigon Binh Tay Beer JSC is producing five million liters of alcohol-free beer a year, and sells the drink under the Sagota brand name, company chairman Van Thanh Liem told reporters at the unveiling ceremony yesterday.
Alcohol-free beer is beer with no alcohol content, which aims to reproduce the taste of beer without the inebriating effects of standard alcoholic brews.
“Sagota is brewed in accordance with normal production steps like other beer products, except for the fact that alcohol is extracted from the beer,” Liem said.
Drinkers will never get drunk with Sagota, making the product a healthy one, he added.
The alcohol-free product is suitable to serve women, athletes, and drivers, the chairman said.
Saigon Binh Tay Beer is monitoring market reactions to the new product, and once the non-alcoholic beer has become a common beverage, the company will “boost promotional campaigns to reach more drinkers,” Liem said.
Alcoholic beverages are an indispensable part of parties and meetings in Vietnamese culture, but the Southeast Asian country is enacting different measures to mitigate the negative effects of alcohol abuse.
Drinkers can be pulled over by traffic cops for alcohol breath tests, while the health ministry has suggested banning sales of alcoholic beverages after 10:00 pm.
“Alcohol-free beer thus emerges as a perfect solution for many beer-lovers,” Liem said.
The chairman said Sagota is much cheaper than imported non-alcoholic products.
While products from the Netherlands, Germany and Japan fetch from VND20,000 to VND35,000 (US$1-1.6) a can, Sagota beer is selling at around VND12,000 ($0.56) a can, or VND274,000 ($12.9) per 24-can carton.
Vietnamese are heavy consumers of beer and alcohol and the amount they down has been increasing year after year.
In 2013, Vietnam consumed over three billion liters of beer, ranking third in Asia after Japan and China, compared to 2.8 billion liters in 2012.
Ninety percent of Vietnamese adults drink beer and alcohol and every one in four drinkers consumes it at a harmful level – six glasses of beer a day or more, according to Nguyen Huy Quang, head of the legal department of the Ministry of Health.