Australian alcohol consumption continues downward trend

29 May, 2019 by Andy Young

The latest findings from Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Currency Report March 2019, has shown a decline in the percentage of the Australian population aged 18 and over who consume at least one type of alcoholic drink in an average four week period.

In 2014 the report recorded 70.1 per cent of the population as consuming alcohol in the time period, with the most recent findings showing that number has declined to 67.5 per cent. The report also showed that all major categories of alcoholic drinks showed declines in incidence over this period, apart from cider, which increased.

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Wine is consumed by 42.8 per cent of the Australian population aged 18+ over an average four week period, ahead of beer with 38.2 per cent and spirits on 26.3 per cent. Cider is now consumed by 11.4 per cent which has increased from 11.1 per cent five years ago, making it the only type of alcohol to increase. The incidence of cider drinkers is now ahead of RTD (10.8 per cent), Liqueurs (6.5 per cent) and Fortified Wine (4.9 per cent).

Michele Levine, Chief Executive Officer, Roy Morgan said: “Alcohol has often been considered to have a central role in the social life of many Australians however the latest research from Roy Morgan shows that a declining proportion of Australians are now drinking alcohol. Now just over two-thirds of Australians (67.5 per cent) drink alcohol in an average four weeks, down 2.6 per cent points from five years ago (70.1 per cent).

“Although wine is more widely drunk, it is beer which dominates the overall volume of alcohol drunk in Australia. Beer comprises a 45 per cent share of the volume of alcohol drunk in Australia compared to 29.1 per cent for wine, 13.2 per cent for spirits, 5.8 per cent for RTD and 3.7 per cent for cider. However, as we’ve highlighted, the drinking habits of Australians are changing and beer’s share of the volume has declined 2.8 per cent points from five years ago while wine’s share has increased 2.4 per cent points.

“In large part the success of Australia’s alcohol retailers and brands rides on the drinking habits of Australian men who drink around two thirds (66.6 per cent) of all alcohol drunk in Australia while women drink the remaining 33.4 per cent.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly it is men who drink the bulk of beer consumed in Australia and the traditional favourite comprises a huge 58.4 per cent share of all alcohol consumed by men by volume compared to only 19.5 per cent for second-placed wine. However, a deeper analysis of the beer-drinking habits of Australian men reveals the tradition may be on a long-term decline.

“Today beer comprises only 46.7 per cent of the volume of alcohol drunk by 18-24 year old men compared to 51 per cent five years ago in 2014 and an even higher 62.1 per cent a decade ago in 2009. Over the same time period the share of cider for this age group has increased from only 1.3 per cent in 2009 to 5.9 per cent today.

“In contrast to Australian men the drinking habits of Australian women are dominated by the consumption of wine which comprises a dominant 48.2 per cent of all alcohol consumed by women by volume compared to only 18.3 per cent for second-placed beer and 15.2 per cent for spirits.”

The report also showed that over the last five years the biggest category consumption decline was for wine (down 2.3 per cent points), followed by liqueurs (down 1.2 per cent points), RTD (down 0.9 per cent points). Beer showed a decline of 0.6 per cent points and as a result closed the gap marginally to wine as Australia’s most widely drunk type of alcohol.