Wine suffers biggest decline as alcohol consumption falls

May 28, 2019
By Alana House

The latest findings from Roy Morgan show alcohol consumption is gradually declining in Australia, with wine falling most.

According to the ‘Alcohol Consumption Currency Report March 2019’, 67.5% of Australians aged 18 and over consumed at least one type of alcoholic drink in an average four-week period.

This represents a gradual decline over the last five years from 70.1% recorded in 2014.

All major categories of alcoholic drinks showed declines in incidence over this period, apart from cider which increased.

Alcohol consumption – March 2019 vs March 2014

Roy Morgan alcohol consumption graph

Wine the most popular alcoholic drink just ahead of beer

Wine was consumed by 42.8% of the Australian population aged 18+ over an average four-week period, ahead of beer with 38.2% and spirits on 26.3%.

Cider is now consumed by 11.4% which has increased from 11.1% five years ago, making it the only type of alcohol to increase. The incidence of cider drinkers is now ahead of RTD (10.8%), Liqueurs (6.5%) and Fortified Wine (4.9%).

Over the last five years the biggest decline was for wine (down 2.3% points), followed by liqueurs (down 1.2% points), RTD (down 0.9% points). Beer showed a decline of 0.6% points and as a result closed the gap marginally to wine as Australia’s most widely drunk type of alcohol.

Beer is drunk in the greatest volume by Australians

Although wine is the most popular alcoholic drink in terms of the number of drinkers, beer is clearly the top in terms of volume (based on glasses).

It accounts for 45% of the volume of alcoholic drinks consumed more than wine (29.1%) and spirits (13.2%) combined.

However, since 2014 gains in share of volume were seen for wine (up 2.4% points), cider (up 0.8% points) and spirits (up 0.6% points). Losses in share were greatest for beer (down 2.8% points) and RTDs (down 1.1% points).

There are big differences between the alcohol preferences of women and men in Australia however the vast bulk of alcohol drunk in Australia is by men (66.6%) almost double the overall volume of alcohol drunk by women (33.4%).

The most popular alcohol by volume for women is easily wine, which accounts for 48.2% of the volume of alcohol drunk by women. Well behind is beer which comprises 18.3% of the volume of alcohol drunk by women, spirts (15.2%), RTD (7.5%), Cider (5.8%), Liqueurs (2%), Fortified Wine (1.1%) and Other types of alcohol (1.9%).

For men it is beer which takes all before it taking a 58.4% share of the volume of alcohol men consume. The second most popular type of alcohol drunk by men is wine which comprises 19.5% of the volume of alcohol drunk by men, followed by spirits (12.2%), RTD (4.9%), cider (2.6%), liqueurs (1%), fortified wine (0.8%) and other types of alcohol (0.6%).

Alcohol share of volume – 12 months to March 2019: women vs men

Roy Morgan alcohol consumption graph

Michele Levine, Chief Executive Officer, Roy Morgan said: “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%) of all alcohol drunk in Australia while women drink the remaining 33.4%.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly it is men who drink the bulk of beer consumed in Australia and the traditional favourite comprises a huge 58.4% share of all alcohol consumed by men by volume compared to only 19.5% 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% of the volume of alcohol drunk by 18-24 year old men compared to 51% five years ago in 2014 and an even higher 62.1% a decade ago in 2009. Over the same time period the share of cider for this age group has increased from only 1.3% in 2009 to 5.9% 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% of all alcohol consumed by women by volume compared to only 18.3% for second-placed beer and 15.2% for spirits.”

The ‘Alcohol Consumption Currency Report March 2019’ is based on in-depth interviews conducted face-to-face with over 50,000 consumers per annum in their homes, including detailed questioning of over 15,000 regarding their alcoholic drinking habits.

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