Thirst for premium beverages lifts Australian alcohol spending

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th November 2011

Research published today by market research organisation, IBISWorld, predicts that Australians will spend A$25.4 Billion on alcoholic beverages in 2011-12. According to the research, Australians are increasingly choosing premium alcoholic drinks over traditional beers.

The report predicts that alcohol spending in Australia will increase by 15.3% over the next five years, reaching A$29.3 Billion in 2016/17.

IBISWorld General Manager (Australia) Karen Dobie said that while Australia’s alcohol consumption is forecast to rise to 11.02 litres per capita by 2016, this 3.86% increase is a minor factor in upward spending. The report cites a trend towards premium beverages and rising alcohol prices as the main growth drivers.

A global comparison

According to the IBISWorld report, Australia’s per capita alcohol consumption is currently 10.61 litres per capita, higher than the United Kingdom’s current level of 10.58 litres per capita, and well above the United States’ average of 8.42 litres.

In terms of growth potential, Ms Dobie identified Asia as the strongest region for beer sales, with average annual growth between 2003 and 2008 reaching above 8 per cent. In China, per capita consumption is expected to rise to 53.40 litres by 2013, while Singapore is expected to rise to 23.12 litres and Thailand 61.42 litres. Ms Dobie said this could create new opportunities for Australian brewers looking to expand overseas.

Off-premises consumption takes largest share of market

IBISWorld forecasts that, during 2011/12, Australians will spend A$9.04 Billion in pubs, taverns and bars and A$16.4 Billion in liquor retailer stores.

Ms Dobie said, “Off-premises consumption – through takeaway purchases at pubs, taverns and bars and liquor retailers – is expected to retain the largest share of the pie, accounting for about 81% of total alcohol spending.”

The research found that New South Wales accounts for 39.75% of total alcohol spending at A$10.11 billion, followed by Victoria (21.69%), Queensland (13.97%) and Western Australia (12.17%).

Favourite brews

Beer consumption currently accounts for 44% of total alcohol consumption, falling from a high of 76% in the 1960s, while wine accounts for 37% and spirits for 19%, the report said.

“Traditional full-strength lagers such as VB, Carlton Draught and Tooheys are losing market share in favour of cider and premium, imported, low-carbohydrate and craft beer segments. Craft beers have grown in popularity and there are now close to 120 microbreweries in Australia,” Ms Dobie said.

Fine wine

Ms Dobie said that Australians are happier than ever to pay a premium for their favourite blend. As the wine glut slows, wine prices are expected to increase. Wine spending has increased by more than 3% per annum over the past 10 years.

“White wine continues to dominate, accounting for 49% of wine consumption in 2011-12. Red wine has shown the strongest growth – increasing its share by 4% over the past 10 years to account for 34.80% of wine consumption,” Ms Dobie said.

In spirits

IBISWorld’s report claims that, in terms of pure alcohol consumed, spirits and ready-to-drink beverages have increased by an average 3.84% over the past 10 years, with straight spirits dominating market share. The popularity of ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages fell after the government’s 2008 decision to increase the excise on them in line with other spirits.