4307.0.55.002 - Apparent Consumption of Alcohol: Extended Time Series, 1944-45 to 2008-09 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/01/2011  First Issue
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18 January, 2011
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

No longer a nation of beer drinkers

Beer consumption in Australia has fallen gradually but consistently since the 1960s, while wine and spirits consumption have increased, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

At the start of the 60's, beer made up three quarters (76%) of all pure alcohol consumed, but in recent years this has fallen to under half (44%).

Wine has increased threefold over the same time (12% of all pure alcohol consumed in 1960-61 to 36% in 2008-09) while spirits have nearly doubled (12% to 20%).

In 1960-61 Australians consumed the equivalent of 9.3 litres of pure alcohol per person, climbing to a high of 13.1 litres in 1974-75. Consumption started to fall in the early 80's, hitting a low of 9.8 litres in 1995-96. Since then, it has crept up again to 10.4 litres in 2008-09, which is still a fifth lower than the 1974-75 peak.

In terms of volume, Australia's annual beer consumption increased sharply in the decade after 1944-45, doubling from 77 litres per person to 155 litres in 1954-55. In 2008-09 Australians consumed an average 107 litres of beer. Wine was at its lowest after the war, at only 7 litres per person and has increased to 29 litres in 2008-09.

Further details are available in Apparent Consumption of Alcohol: Extended Time Series, 1944-45 to 2008-09 (cat. no. 4307.0.55.002).

Media notes:
  • Estimates of 'apparent consumption' are obtained from information related to supply (for example, excise data on alcohol produced for domestic consumption, and data on imports) and do not represent actual consumption. No account is taken of changes in stocks, duty-free alcohol imported by individual overseas travellers, or for alcohol that has been stored or cellared, used in the preparation of food or discarded as waste. All alcohol available for consumption in a particular year is assumed to have been consumed in that year.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.