1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Jun 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/07/2009   
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A Thirsty Country
... I’ll Buy The Next Round

Australia is known as the driest inhabited continent on Earth, so it should come as no surprise that Aussies are a thirsty lot.

But according to the latest Apparent Consumption of Alcohol statistics (cat. no. 4307.0.55.001), we’re going a bit easier on the bottle than in recent years. Between 2006-07 and 2007-08, the apparent consumption of alcohol dropped by 0.5%, after increasing by 1.7% between 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Despite the overall drop, it seems breweries aren’t getting the message, with total beer production growing from 1,800.7 million litres in 2006-07 to 1,826.5 million litres in 2007-08. That’s about 110 litres of beer for every man and woman in Australia. Grape crushers around the country kept their feet a little cleaner, as vineyards pumped out 1.9 million litres less in 2007-08 than the previous year.

No, it’s your shout
Between 2005-06 and 2007-08, the volume of alcohol drunk in pre-mixed beverages* grew by 10% per person (over the age of 15). Now that the prices of ready-to-drink beverages have risen, university students across the country will need to redirect their preferences in the search for cheap drinks.

This search has not resulted in an explosion in the sale of cask wine, somewhat surprisingly. According to the Sales of Wine and Brandy by Winemakers publication (cat. no. 8504.0), sales of red and rosť cask wine fell in the last two months, and sales of white cask wine have been falling for the last seven months straight. The global recession is obviously taking its toll on luxury items such as Chateau de Cardboard.

Export Hangover
It appears that Australians aren’t the only ones cutting back on the booze. In 2007-08, Australia’s wine exports totalled 715 million litres, 9.2% lower than in the previous financial year, and 1.0% lower than the year before that. After decades of growth in Australian wine exports, it looks like the rest of the world has finally had enough to drink (and might need some help staggering home).

But who’s been indulging the most, you might ask? By volume, Uncle Sam has an unquenchable thirst for Aussie wine, downing 24 million litres of wine in the month of March alone. The Old Dart is also rather fond of a few glasses, with the UK importing 20 million litres of wine from Australia.

Down the hatch
Being a multicultural society, Australians have cultivated a taste for overseas wine. The French exported 329,000 litres of wine into Australia in March 2009. The Italians, who love their vino, kindly provided us with 567,000 litres in the same period. But the big surprise was New Zealand, which sent across 2,367,000 litres of wine, representing over two thirds of our total wine imports for the month.

Considering Australia only exported 1,454,000 litres to New Zealand in the same period, this is one area where the Kiwis can claim supremacy over their old arch rivals. The abundance of wine flowing between the two countries has prompted calls for a Trans-Tasman Wine Pipeline, which may go some way towards improving relations between the two nations.

Paul Burns
Article By: Paul Burns
Client Liaison Unit

* Pre-mixed beverages refers to the pure alcohol content in the pre-mixed drinks, and does not refer to the total volume of pre-mixed beverages that were drunk.