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Over the past 50 years, the per-capita trend in apparent consumption of alcohol can be broadly characterised by several phases. First was a steep increase in consumption from the early 1960s leading to the peak of 13.1 litres per-capita in 1974-75. Consumption around this level was maintained until the early 1980s when annual consumption fell consistently through to the early 1990s, and from that point hovered around 10 litres per-capita for around a decade. Consumption increased once again over the period 2002-03 to 2007-08 reaching 10.8 litres per capita by 2006-07. Since that time, consumption has undergone a further decline with the most recent (2016-17) level at 9.4 litres per capita being lower than any period over the last 50 years and only slightly higher than the early 1960s.
Footnote(s): (a) Includes Ready to Drink (pre-mixed) beverages.
Source(s): Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia, 2016-17
The overall trend in apparent consumption has been driven by large shifts in the types of alcoholic beverage consumed. Beer in particular had a major impact on the early increase in overall consumption and the subsequent periods of decline. This is reflected in the long-term decline in the share of beer to the total consumption of pure alcohol which went from contributing 75% of all alcohol in 1966-67 to 39% in 2016-17 as the per-capita consumption of beer almost halved over the period. In contrast, the share of alcohol consumed from wine over the 50 year period has grown from 14% to 38%. Despite beer's share of total consumption continuing to decline over time, beer continues to be the leading source of alcohol, with 3.7 litres of pure alcohol from beer consumed per capita in 2016-17 compared with 3.6 litres of alcohol from wine. While alcohol from wine made up a greater share of the total alcohol consumed in 2016-17 than any previous period, the per-capita consumption of alcohol from wine reached its peak in 2009-10 at 3.9 litres of pure alcohol from wine per person. So, while the most recent decade has seen a decline in per-capita consumption of wine by an average of 0.4% per year, wine still managed to slightly increase share by 3.4 percentage points over that period because of the larger declines in consumption of beer and also spirits.
Spirits (and RTDs) have also increased share over the long term from 11% in 1966-67 to 19% in 2016-17. However, the 2016-17 share is down from the 2007-08 peak of 21% due to a decline averaging 2.6% per year over the most recent nine years.
While cider was estimated to have made an insignificant contribution to total alcohol consumption prior to 2004-05, since that time it has grown steadily from that time to make up 3.4% in 2016-17.
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