“Hic!” Aussies Drinking More In Lockdown; With Wine, Spirits & RTDs Seeing Significant Growth

“Hic!” Aussies Drinking More In Lockdown; With Wine, Spirits & RTDs Seeing Significant Growth

New data from Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report shows the proportion of Australians who drink alcohol increased by four per cent points to 69.7 per cent in the 12 months to June 2021 driven by increases in the number of Australians drinking wine, spirits and RTDs.

In the year to June 2021 a total of 13,908,000 Australians (69.7 per cent) aged 18-plus consumed alcohol in an average four-week period, up from 13,040,000 (65.7 per cent) a year earlier.

Driving this increase were significant increases for wine, spirits and RTDs over the past year as Australia enjoyed strong economic growth following the lockdowns of 2020. The number of Australians drinking wine increased by nearly one million over the past year from 8,323,000 Australians (42 per cent) to 9,237,000 (46.3 per cent) – an increase of 4.3 percentage points over the year.

In addition, there were 6,621,000 Australians (33.2 per cent) drinking spirits in mid-2021, up from 5,876,000 (29.7 per cnet) a year earlier – an increase of 3.5 percentage points. Also increasing was consumption of ready-to-drinks (RTDs) which increased from 2,187,000 Australians (11 per cent) up to 2,699,000 Australians (13.5 per cent).

There were mixed results for the other categories of alcohol with drinking of beer and liqueurs virtually unchanged on a year ago while there were fewer Australians drinking cider and fortified wines in mid-2021.

Notably in mid-2021 there were 7,094,000 Australians (35.6 per cent) drinking beer compared to 7,077,000 (35.8 per cent) a year earlier and if the trends of the last year were to continue over the next year the number of Australians drinking spirits is set to overtake those drinking beer.

Proportion of Australians who consume alcohol in an average four-week period

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says the increase in alcohol consumption has continued during 2021 with wine, spirits and RTDs driving an increase of four percentage points in the proportion of Australians drinking alcohol to over 13.9 million (69.7 per cent of adults).

Levine commented: “The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early in 2020 led to a turnaround in the long-term trend of declining alcohol consumption as a share of population which we had seen consistently over the last 15 years. This new trend has continued throughout the first half of 2021.

“Nearly 70 per cent of Australian adults now consume alcohol in an average four-week period with the increases in consumption for wine, spirits and RTDs (Ready-to-drinks) driving this increase.

“Over 9.2 million Australians (46.3 per cent of adults) now drink wine in an average four weeks, up 4.3 per cent points from a year ago. The gap between wine and second-placed beer has now widened to over 10 percentage points with 35.6 per cent of Australians now drinking beer, virtually unchanged from 35.8 per cent a year ago.

“Importantly, wine drinking has increased significantly in popularity for both genders with a majority of 50.5 per cent of women now drinking wine, up 3.7 percentage points on a year ago, and 41.9 per cent of men drinking wine, an even larger increase of 4.8 per cent points. The number of people drinking wine also increased across the age spectrum and those most likely to be drinking wine are aged 65-79; although the increase in this age group was smaller than any other at 0.8 per cent points on a year ago.

“The other big winners over the last year have been spirits and RTDs. Nearly a third of Australian adults, 33.2 per cent, now drink spirits, an increase of 3.5 percentage points on a year ago and 13.5 per cent now drink RTDs, up 2.5 percentage points.

“The increasing consumption of spirits began well before the pandemic and if current trends continue there will be more Australians drinking spirits than drinking beer this time next year. At present there are 7,094,000 beer drinkers compared to 6,621,000 spirit drinkers – a gap of only 473,000 and the smallest on record.

“Consumption of other alcoholic beverages hasn’t benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic and the series of lockdowns to hit Australia over the last year with the number of Australians consuming liqueurs virtually unchanged on a year ago while fewer are now drinking cider or fortified wine.

“The big question for the alcohol market going forward is can the trends of the last 18 months during the pandemic with increasing numbers of Australians consuming alcohol (in particular wine, spirits and RTDs) continue once the pandemic over or will the prior longer-term trends on alcohol consumption reassert themselves when the lockdowns and forced business closures are over?”




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