The surprising stats on Australia’s alcohol consumption

Australian alcohol consumption is down to record lows, according to the ABS.

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?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    4th Sep 2018
    What you fail to say is that the reason put forward is our large immigrant intake is the driver of this because these people are not piss pots. Many Australians are.
    5th Sep 2018
    Agreed. The largest migrant source is India now which has no drinking culture
    4th Sep 2018
    I have never been a drinker at all and neither were my Parents
    4th Sep 2018
    A fair comment. I know I am generalising but many Australians do drink. Even a bottle a day is not healthy and many more go out on binges and wipe themselves out which is completely unhealthy.
    No offense intended.
    4th Sep 2018
    Mick -- I wasn't having a go at you -- sorry if you thought that it was just a quick statement I made -- because I have never been a drinker and neither were my parents -- I was born --1st generation --in Aussie from Scottish parents and I often say to people well if you are an Aussie if you love BBQ/beer/wine/football/cricket/and pies and sauce I must be the one out as I dislike the lot of those.

    But I love Aussie
    4th Sep 2018
    Oh and I don't do drugs either
    4th Sep 2018
    I have never been a drinker. I think drugs have replaced alcohol.
    almost midnight
    4th Sep 2018
    ask any policeman..they have hyped up the tax on alcohol so now it cheaper to get illegal drugs than a guess where they are all going. Rudd lifted the tax dramatically on premixes - with no concession for low alcohol content. I had taught my kids ( daughter in particular) to drink premixes - particularly in a pub ( thumb over the top - no way anyone could add anything to her drink) and they also knew exactly how much they had to drink. Rudd puts up they all went back to large bottles, and mixing their own. - go figure!
    The Bronze Anzac
    4th Sep 2018
    The massive immigration & the resultant population explosion in recent years would have greatly affected the ABS figures of 2016. However, I believe that rising prices & taxes has now put the consumption of alcohol as second behind illicit drugs. Police now tell us that drugs have now overtaken alcohol in roadside breath tests.
    4th Sep 2018
    If I add alcohol to all my medication it will blow my brains out.

    4th Sep 2018
    To those who are disappointed with the reduction in alcohol sales in Australia, I apologise. I have given up drinking.
    5th Sep 2018
    I haven't and now I have to drink more. Willingly, I might add.
    Tongue in cheek.

    Tags: lifestyle, alcohol, abs,

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles