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There were 185.8 million litres of pure alcohol available for consumption from alcoholic beverages in Australia in 2016-17. This was a decrease from the amount available for consumption in 2015-16 (188.2 million litres).
A 3.4% decrease in pure alcohol from beer (or 2,593 thousand litres) between 2015-16 and 2016-17 was responsible for the overall decline in the volume of pure alcohol available. Comparatively less change in pure alcohol volumes was seen from pre-mixed or ready to drink beverages (RTDs) decreasing 0.7% (76 thousand litres) and cider decreasing 1.3% (82 thousand litres). In contrast, alcohol from wine grew 0.4% (299 thousand litres) and spirits grew 0.2% (45 thousand litres) over the year to 2016-17.
Of the total amount of pure alcohol available for consumption in 2016-17, beer contributed 39.2%, wine 38.3%, spirits 13.1%, RTDs 6.0% and cider 3.4%. Although beer has remained the leading source of alcohol over recent years, its share of total alcohol consumed has declined 2.1 percentage points since 2011-12 (from 41.2%). The declining share of alcohol from beer over the five years to 2016-17 has been taken up by wine and cider (up 0.6 and 1.7 percentage points respectively), while the share from spirits and RTDs was down by 0.3 percentage points.
On a per capita basis there were 9.4 litres of pure alcohol available for consumption per person in 2016-17, down from the amount in 2015-16 (9.7 litres) and is the lowest level since 1961-62 (9.4 litres).
Footnote(s): (a) Litres per person aged 15 years and over. (b) Includes Ready to Drink (pre-mixed) beverages.
Source(s): Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia, 2016-17
While on the one hand, apparent consumption of alcohol figures will tend to overestimate the true level of alcohol consumed because adjustments have not been made for storage, wastage and other factors such as for alcohol used in cooking, on the other hand the per-capita estimates will under-estimate consumption among alcohol consumers because many people never actually consume alcohol. The 2014-15 National Health Survey data indicates that over one-fifth (21.3%) of the population aged 15 years and over had not consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months. Assuming this proportion of non-drinkers, the average alcohol consumption among alcohol consumers can be estimated at 12.0 litres per year in 2016-17. As a standard drink consists of 12.5 mls of pure alcohol, this is equivalent to an average of 2.6 standard drinks per day among the consumers, down from 2.7 in 2015-16.
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