Beer consumption hits a 66 year low in Australia, but wine is still growing
Australian tastes are swinging away from beer and towards wine, but Australians are drinking a little less alcohol overall, according to figures released 18 September 2013 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
“Beer is now at its lowest point in 66 years,” said Louise Gates from the ABS. “Even so, that means that there are still 4.1 litres of pure alcohol available from beer for every person in Australia aged 15 years and over,” she said.
While Australians are consuming less beer per person – a downwards trend that the ABS said started in the 1970s – there has been an increase in wine consumption.
“In terms of pure alcohol available for consumption, beer was down 2.3 per cent in 2011-12 (compared with the previous year), while wine rose 1.9 per cent,” Ms Gates said. “Ready-to-drink beverages have also seen a drop and were down by 2.5 per cent, while spirits have seen the largest fall, down by a full 4 per cent,” she said.
The ABS estimates of ‘apparent consumption’ are obtained from information related to supply (for example, excise data on alcohol produced for domestic consumption and data on imports) and may not represent actual consumption.
All alcohol available for consumption in a particular year is assumed to have been consumed that year. The ABS noted that its figures were likely to overestimate the true level of alcohol consumed as beverages because adjustment could not be made for wastage and other factors such as for alcohol used in cooking.
Overall alcohol consumption down
According to the ABS findings, there were 183.5 million litres of pure alcohol available for consumption from alcoholic beverages in Australia in 2011-12. This was 0.8 per cent less than the amount available for consumption in 2010-11 (184.9 million litres).
“The overall picture is that consumption of alcohol in Australia has fallen for a second year in a row,” Ms Gates said. “2011-12 saw us drink 1.4 million litres less than we did in 2010-11, and 2.7 million litres less than in 2009-10,” she said.
Of all pure alcohol available for consumption in 2011-12, ABS figures showed that beer contributed 41.2 per cent, wine 37.8 per cent, spirits 12.6 per cent and ready-to-drink beverages (RTDs) 6.8 per cent. Cider contributed a further 1.7 per cent.
On a per capita basis there were 10.1 litres of pure alcohol available for consumption per person in 2011-12, 2.3 per cent less than the amount in 2010-11 (10.3 litres). As a standard drink consists of 12.5ml of pure alcohol, this is equivalent to an average of 2.2 standard drinks per day per person aged 15 years and over.
Over the past 50 years, the ABS said levels of apparent consumption of different alcoholic beverages have changed substantially. In particular, the proportion of pure alcohol available for consumption in the form of beer has decreased considerably, from 75 per cent in 1961-62 to 41 per cent in 2011-12.
Over the same period the proportion of wine has increased from 12 per cent to 38 per cent, and spirits (including RTDs) from 13 per cent to 19 per cent.
Cider made up 1.7 per cent of the total quantity of pure alcohol available for consumption in Australia in 2011-12.
In terms of apparent consumption of pure alcohol per capita, the ABS said total consumption had fluctuated over the past 50 years. From the early 1960s onwards apparent per capita consumption increased steadily, peaking at 13.1 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15 years and over in 1974-75. Apparent per capita consumption remained relatively steady for the next 5-10 years, then declined over the following decade, reaching 9.8 litres per person in 1995-96.
Apparent consumption then gradually increased to 10.8 litres in both 2006-07 and 2007-08, before declining over the past 4 years to 10.1 litres of pure alcohol per person in 2011-12.
In 2011-12 there were 75.6 million litres of pure alcohol available from beer, a decrease of 2.3 per cent from 2010-11 (77.3 million litres). Full strength beer made up 82.3 per cent of all beer available for consumption in 2011-12, followed by mid-strength beer (13.8 per cent) and low strength beer (3.9 per cent).
The volume of beer available for consumption decreased 2.6 per cent from 1,808.8 million litires in 2010-11 to 1,762.4 million litres in 2011-12. The volume of full strength beer decreased 2.6 per cent, while low strength beer decreased 12 per cent. Mid-strength beer recorded an increase of 1.8 per cent.
The quantity of pure alcohol available for consumption from wine increased 1.9 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12, from 68 million litres to 69.3 million litres. White wine made up 48.6 per cent of all pure alcohol in wine in 2011-12, while red wine made up 36.6 per cent, and other wines 14.8 per cent.
The volume of wine available for consumption increased by 2.1 per cent, from 534.6 million litres in 2010-11 to 545.6 million litres in 2011-12. White wine (up 3.2 per cent, or 8.7 million litres) accounted for most of this increase, followed by red wine (up 2 per cent, or 3.7 million litres). The volume of other wines decreased by 1.6 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Spirits and ready-to-drink (pre-mixed) beverages
The quantity of alcohol available for consumption in the form of spirits (excluding RTDs) decreased by 4 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12, from 24.0 million litres to 23.1 million litres.
The quantity of alcohol available for consumption in the form of RTDs decreased by 2.5 per cent during this period, from 12.8 million litres to 12.5 million litres.
The ABS said its figures included estimates of the quantity of pure alcohol available for consumption from cider for the first time. In 2011-12 there were 3.1 million litres of pure alcohol available from cider.
The figures for cider were estimate using self-reported alcohol consumption data from the 2011-12 National Health Survey.