We take on cola with alcohol-free beer on tap, says Heineken's boss

It has become one of the major unacceptable things for established consumer companies: how do you draw from the mindsets – and portfolios – of millennials who lead such different lives to their parents and grandparents?

For brewers and pub groups, the problem could not be greater. All available research points for health conscious younger generations who increasingly distance themselves from alcohol.

The most recent study, from University College London, suggests that 29 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds now classify themselves as total reception, compared with 18 percent in 2005. Even those who drink do so in moderation – a decade ago, nearly half of the youth admitted to drink more than the recommended safe limits. Today is one in four.

Zero tolerance: David Forde thinks that drinkers embrace alcohol-free beer when served in a brand glass

Zero tolerance: David Forde thinks that drinkers embrace alcohol-free beer when served in a brand glass

Zero tolerance: David Forde thinks that drinkers embrace alcohol-free beer when served in a brand glass

For David Forde, the soft-spoken Irish who is responsible for the British department of the Dutch brewer Heineken, the answer to this riddle is simple: alcohol-free beer.

Heineken sold 15 million bottles of its non-alcoholic 0.0 beer last year. Forde predicts that the number will double in 2019 to 30 million – and even catch market leader Becks Blue – while the company pushes it to Coca-Cola or coffee as a soda alternative.

& # 39; I see it with my son, who is 20, & # 39; Forde says when we arrive at a pub in London. & # 39; He will take our alcohol-free Heineken 0.0 out of the refrigerator three times out of four times he will have a beer. If we had no 0.0, he would drink water. & # 39;

Forde, who has 30 years of experience at Heineken, of which a large part is spent on the marketing department of the company, travels weekly from his parental home in Cork, Ireland, to London. He accepts that alcohol-free beers have been around for a while and have not started in the UK. But the 50-year-old believes that plans to put them in the pub will be a turning point this year.

& # 39; Industry has not done a good job with alcohol-free beers in the past & # 39 ;, acknowledges Forde. & # 39; They did not taste great and I think this is the first time we've really broken it.

Ninety percent of all beer sold in pubs is draft. If you can offer people a pint in a beautiful brand glass, we think they will embrace alcohol-free beer. & # 39;

The industry has not done well in the past … now we have broken it

A test of pull 0.0 in 100 bar last year was a "runaway success", says Forde, so in the first three months of this year Heineken will install pumps in 3000 across the country.

The company is also ready to launch an alcohol-free version of its premium Italian beer brand, Birra Moretti, which Forde says it should be in supermarkets and cafes later in 2019.

Crucially, these new health conscious products complement Heineken's alcoholic drinks, which range from Strongbow cider to Amstel lager beer and craft beers such as Beavertown. Forde says he sees his competition as coffeeshops and soft drinks in corner shops – and hopes that customers will soon see alcohol-free beer as a drink for the day, rather than just a sober option at their local.

& # 39; You come to a point on the day you get coffee, & # 39; explains Forde. We believe that we can tackle the offensive and go after Coca-Cola, go after Fanta, go to spring water, drink tea and drink coffee.

& # 39; There is no limit when you can drink this. A bottle of Heineken 0.0 has only 69 calories. You can drink this moving house in your car. If you think of all occasions that people drink soft drinks today, we can be on that market. & # 39;

Forde also says that pubs must embrace changing tastes and habits, rather than fighting them

Forde also says that pubs must embrace changing tastes and habits, rather than fighting them

Forde also says that pubs must embrace changing tastes and habits, rather than fighting them

Forde also says that pubs must embrace changing tastes and habits, rather than fighting them. About 18 close every week – and he believes that many will only survive if they find a way to become the heart of their community again.

& # 39; Where I come from, you had the bar and the lounge, and the bar was for the boys and the lounge was where females and couples went, but that's gone 25 years ago & # 39 ;, says Forde.

He winds up a list of ideas for pubs modern & # 39; community hubs & # 39; to make: more soft play areas for children, organize business conferences, use parking garages for the sale of cars – and even prenatal lessons for expectant mothers.

People will vote with their feet and go to the pub that meets their needs

"People will vote with their feet and go to the pub that meets those needs," he says. & # 39; If you're in the suburbs with many young families and that's your neighborhood and you're not in that neighborhood, you will not survive. & # 39;

That is Heineken's belief that pubs have a future, it has saved £ 1.3 billion for 1,900 of them from Punch Taverns in 2017.

He says that the one we agreed to – one of the newly acquired Heineken buildings, The Gun in Spitalfields, near the city – is a good example. The origin dates back to the 16th century, when it was a tavern for the soldiers of the nearby Artillery Ground.

But the modern target customer is a smartly dressed banker or a trendy millennial from nearby Shoreditch. So the old floor coverings, oak panels and Delft tiles went out and came in fashionable warehouse-like brushed steel and overhead lines.

Now a wide range of bearings and ciders is on tap instead of traditional ales, and customers can choose from a food menu that does not go wrong in a first-class restaurant.

Forde does not like his words. & # 39; The British market was exaggerated & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; The age of the Coronation Street landlady and the landlord with their regulars has disappeared. Nowadays we have very different operators – children with Masters and PhDs who just want to run their own company. & # 39;

David Forde, 50: Golfer, runner and Heineken lifer

Born: Galway, Ireland, 1968.

Education: National University of Ireland, where he studied physics.

Family: Married to wife Siobhan for nearly 25 years – he plans to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary with a beautiful little wine. The couple has three children, two boys and a girl aged 20, 18 and 15. He travels weekly from the parental home in Cork to London, where he stays in Kensington.

Career: First job outside the university was at Heineken Ireland working in the sales and marketing department. He is a Heineken-lifer and has lived in Poland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom for 30 years. He held the top job at Heineken, UK and Ireland in 2013.

Dedicated: Forde's top film is The Commitments

Dedicated: Forde's top film is The Commitments

Dedicated: Forde's top film is The Commitments

Car: Drive a Jaguar F-pace in Ireland & # 39; probably the last diesel car I ever have, but he is taking the tube in London.

Favorite books: Ex-English footballer Tony Adams & # 39; autobiography Addicted – all about alcohol addiction – and Open, by Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi.

Favorite movie: The commitments.

How he relaxes: Golfing, running and gardening.

Units of alcohol consumed a week: & # 39; You sound like my doctor. I drink responsibly. & # 39;