There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but increasingly there is such a thing as an alcohol-free beer over lunch. Brewing giants AB InBev and Heineken, global competitors on many fronts, are now also facing off in SA in the lucrative zero-alcohol category. Since last month, Castle Free - launched with fanfare two years ago - has had to contend with Heineken 0.0. And though it takes longer and is more complex to brew zero-alcohol drinks, they have one distinct advantage for brewers: no excise duties, which could pad profits. AB InBev, the world's largest brewer, has the global ambition to grow the low- and no-alcohol category to 20% of its total volume by 2025. One of the brewer's first big moves in the South African market, after taking over SABMiller more than three years ago, was to launch Castle Free in 2017. It was the country's first locally brewed alcohol-free beer. It was a runaway success from the start. "The response has been extremely encouraging. During 2018, we rece...

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