Total alcohol consumption remains at 50-year lows

11 September, 2019 by Andy Young

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown the while total alcohol consumption in Australia has remained steady, there has been a rise in spirits consumption while other categories have either fallen or remained steady.

Alcohol Beverages Australia said that the data shows the majority of Australians are still enjoying alcohol responsibly and we are still drinking at 50-year lows.

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“It’s really important that we understand the bigger picture at play here” said ABA CEO Andrew Wilsmore. “The data still shows a long-term decline in consumption which means the vast majority of Australians are enjoying alcohol responsibly and in moderation.”

He added: “The small rise in consumption of spirits reflects the growing number of boutique distilleries and cocktail bars which has led to increased choices for consumers.  There has been significant innovation in this area in the last couple of years.

“While the mix of what people are drinking is changing, overall, we know from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that drinking at harmful levels and underage drinking is at record lows, and those statistics are more insightful than per capita figures.

“A significant cultural shift has taken place, with the largest decline in figures coming from young people aged 18-24, who are drinking far less than any generation before them.

“Australians are increasingly taking control of their own health and well-being and these statistics show that Australians can be trusted to do the right thing when it comes to moderate and responsible drinking.”

Speaking about the data Robert Long, ABS acting Director of Health Statistics, said: “In 2017-18, the total alcohol consumed in Australia was equivalent to 9.51 litres for every person in Australia aged 15 years and over, similar to the 9.48 litres in 2016-17.

“In average daily consumption, this equates to 2.08 standard drinks per person and is unchanged from 2016-17. What is interesting is that we are seeing a rise in spirit consumption which has been on a recent downward trend,” he said.

“Spirits and Ready to Drink beverage consumption increased from 1.79 to 1.89 litres per capita over the previous year. Beer consumption was relatively steady at 3.71 litres per capita, while wine consumption, which has recently been virtually equal to beer, has decreased slightly from 3.74 to 3.67 litres per capita over the same period.”

“This latest data shows a levelling in the most recent period of the longer term trend where pure alcohol consumption per capita dropped from 13.09 per person in 1974-75 to 9.51 litres in 2017-18.”

“In 2017-18 beer represented 39.0 per cent of all pure alcohol available for consumption and wine 38.6 per cent. This is in stark contrast to 40 years ago when beer represented 67.6 per cent and wine 18.6 per cent of pure alcohol available per person aged 15 years and over reflecting the change in consumption preferences over time.”