Alcohol consumption slides

The amount of alcohol drunk by Australians in the past financial year fell to the lowest level since the 1960s.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released figures on Monday that showed that 186 million litres of pure alcohol was consumed in 2016/17, which is the lowest figure since the 1961-62 financial year.

While the figure continues a downward trend, it still represents 9.4 litres of pure alcohol for every person in Australia aged 15 years and over.

Louise Gates, the director of health statistics at the ABS, explained that Australia’s alcohol consumption has been steadily declining since 2008/09.

“Over three-quarters of alcohol consumed was from either beer (39 per cent) or wine (38 per cent),” Ms Gates explained. “And while alcohol consumed from wine has declined recently, the drop in beer consumption has been the main driver for falling alcohol consumption with an average decline of 2.4 per cent per year over the last 10 years.”

A 3.4 per cent decrease in pure alcohol from beer (or 2593 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 per cent (76,000 litres) and cider decreasing 1.3 per cent (82,000 litres). In contrast, alcohol from wine grew 0.4 per cent (299,000 litres) and spirits grew 0.2 per cent (45,000 litres) over the year to 2016-17. 

“The major categories of alcohol sold are beer, wine, spirits, ready-to-drink (pre-mixed beverages) and cider,” Ms Gates explained. “Using the average consumption levels for each category, the 9.4 litres of pure alcohol can be expressed as the average Australian aged 15 and over consuming the equivalent of 224 stubbies (375ml) of beer, 38 bottles (750ml) of wine, 17 bottles (375ml) of cider, four bottles (700ml) of spirits and 33 cans (375ml) of premixed ready to drink varieties.

“If you keep in mind that around one in five Australians drink very rarely or not at all, that’s quite a lot for the rest of us, notwithstanding the amounts discarded or used for non-drinking purposes,” Ms Gates said. 

“If 224 stubbies sounds like a lot, contrast that with 1974-75 when Australia reached ‘peak beer’ and the consumption was equivalent to over 500 stubbies per person.” 

How much alcohol do you think you would consume in a year? Are you pulling your weight when it comes to alcohol consumption?

Related articles:
Alcohol taking a toll on Aussies
Alcohol linked to cancer risk
Could alcohol be taxed again?

Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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