Rise in spirits, but total alcohol consumption steady


Consumption of spirits rose in Australia in 2017-18, bucking a recent downward trend, while consumption of other alcoholic drinks were either steady or falling, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The 2017-18 Apparent Consumption of Alcohol finds that the long-term decline in apparent consumption of alcohol per person has stalled.

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 (RTDs) 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.”

Other results discussed in the 2017-18 Apparent Consumption of Alcohol (cat. no. 4307.0.55.001) publication include apparent consumption of beer, wine, spirits and Ready to Drink (pre-mixed beverages) and cider. This publication is available for free download from: https://www.abs.gov.au/.

Media notes

'Pure alcohol' is the content of an alcoholic beverage that is alcohol - for example a 'standard drink' consists of 12.5 ml of pure alcohol.

  • 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, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via 1300 175 070 or media@abs.gov.au (8.30am - 5pm Mon-Fri).

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