Australian alcohol consumption down (but wine was up)

Australia’s alcohol consumption fell by 3.4% last year, to its lowest level in over 50 years, according to the official data of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

There were 185.8 million litres of pure alcohol available for consumption in alcoholic beverages in Australia in 2016-17. This was a decrease from the 188.2 million litres available for consumption in 2015-16.

A 3.4% decrease in pure alcohol from beer (equivalent to 2.6 million litres) between 2015-16 and 2016-17 was responsible for the overall decline in the volume of pure alcohol available.

There was comparatively less change in pure alcohol volumes in pre-mixed or ready-to-drink beverages (RTDs), which decreased by 0.7% (76,000 litres), and in cider, which decreased by 1.3% (82,000 litres). In contrast, alcohol from wine grew by 0.4% (299,000 litres) and spirits by 0.2% (45,000 litres) in 2016-17.

Of the total amount of pure alcohol available for consumption in 2016-17, beer contributed 39.2%, wine 38.3%, spirits 13.1%, RTDs 6.0% and cider 3.4%. Although beer has been the leading source of alcohol over recent years, its share of total alcohol consumed has declined 2.1 percentage points since 2011-12 (from 41.2%). That share has been taken up by wine and cider (up 0.6 and 1.7 percentage points respectively), while the share from spirits and RTDs was down by 0.3 percentage points.

On a per capita basis there were 9.4 litres of pure alcohol available for consumption per person in 2016-17, down from 9.7 litres in 2015-16, and the lowest level recorded since 1961-62 (also 9.4 litres).