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Trends show ‘moderation is the new normal’ – Alcohol Beverages Australia

April 22, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released data confirming that Australian consumption levels of alcohol continue to decline and where a moderate approach to consumption is the new normal.

Risky drinking rates are falling, consumption levels are declining, wine is increasingly popular as tastes changes, and underage and young Australians are overwhelmingly avoiding drinking at all.
On a per capita basis the consumption of alcohol is at a 50-year low. In 1968 an average of 10.8 litres of pure alcohol per person per year was consumed. Jump to 2018 and consumption is down by more than a litre to 9.5 litres per person.

Fewer Australians are now drinking daily, down significantly from 8.5 per cent in 2001 to 5.4 per cent in 2019 and even those who enjoy a glass or two a week is down from 39 per cent to 34 per cent over the same period.

Commenting on the figures, Alcohol Beverages Australian CEO Andrew Wilsmore said: “What you are seeing is significant cultural change where moderation is the new norm – Australians are making sensible choices and choosing to act responsibly when it comes to enjoying alcohol.

“No-one who works hard at crafting a beer, wine or spirit wants Australians harmed by their product and over several decades of partnering with governments or by investing in industry-led programmes and initiatives, it is pleasing to see the proportion of people exceeding lifetime risk guidelines (drinking more than 2 standard drinks a day) declining from 21 per cent in 2001 to 16.8 per cent in 2019.

“It’s a trend that says Australian are increasingly capable of making sensible, personal decisions around their own consumption. Public education campaigns and police RBT enforcement has clearly made a big difference. The AIHW data shows driving a car was the riskiest activity undertaken while under the influence of alcohol and has fallen more than 40 percent from 14.3 to 9.9 per cent of drinkers over nine years,” said Mr Wilsmore.

Underage Australians in particular have heeded the message about abstaining from alcohol with 72.5 percent of 14-17 year olds not ever having had a drink in 2019, up from 39 percent 2009.

Australian’s tastes have also changed. Fifty years ago, beer was the drink of choice representing almost three quarters of all alcohol sales (73.5 per cent). Now its 39 per cent, with wine rising from 14.4 percent to almost 39 per cent (38.4 per cent). Spirits, cocktails and packaged ready-to-drink products now represent 19.9 per cent up from 12.2 per cent.

“We think more carefully about how we drink these days,” said Wilsmore, “Australians are making conscious decisions to moderate and drink responsibly, with big trends during COVID seeing Australians choosing to drink less, but spending more on a premium product, or exploring low and zero-alcohol products.

“It’s a strong message to those want to want to regulate drinkers ever further. Australians are doing the right thing by drinking responsibly and at the same time backing an industry that supports the livelihoods of 485,000 people and generates $52 billion in economic value,” he said.

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