New data from Roy Morgan shows wine is Australia’s most popular alcoholic drink, ahead of beer; and younger drinkers are more likely to favour spirits than older counterparts.
The Alcohol Report drew on tens of thousands of interviews with Australian adults including detailed questions about their alcohol consumption over the previous four-week period.
Currently, an estimated 13.2 million Australians – 66.4 per cent of the adult population – drink alcohol in one form or another in an average four weeks (33.6 per cent don’t). The percentage of people consuming alcohol continues to fall, dropping from 73.5 per cent in 2006 and 68.2 per cent in 2015.
When the market is considered in a holistic sense Australians are drinking in excess of 400 million glasses of alcohol in an average four weeks, virtually unchanged on a year ago.
Wine is the most popular choice of alcoholic beverage, with 43 per cent of adult Australians drinking wine in an average four weeks, followed by beer at 35.2 per cent and spirits at 30.8 per cent.
There is a distinct split between the sexes with women preferring wine, men preferring beer. Some 47.4 per cent of women consume wine in an average four-week period, compared to 38.4 per cent of men, and 54.3 per cent of men drink beer, compared to only 17.8 per cent of women.
There are also differences in the most popular beverages across different age groups, with more 18-24 year-olds choosing spirits (37.5 per cent) than other types of alcohol, compared to 35-49 year-olds and 50-64 year-olds, for whom wine is the top choice (41.9 per cent and 47.3 per cent, respectively).
Those who drink alcohol were classified as light, medium or heavy drinkers, based on the number of drinks they had consumed in a four-week period: 1-7 drinks for a light drinker, 8-28 for a medium drinker and 29+ for a heavy drinker. While heavy drinkers represent only 34 per cent of all drinkers, they account for a full 77 per cent of all the alcohol that is consumed. Men are far more likely to drink heavily than women, with 42 per cent of men reporting heavy drinking levels compared to 25 per cent of women.
Roy Morgan CEO Michelle Levine commented: “Just under two-thirds of Australians enjoy an alcoholic beverage in an average four-week period, down from almost three-quarters who did so 15 years ago.
“The depth and longevity of our data collection allows us to see some interesting changes in terms of choice of beverage. Back in 2006, just 2.1 per cent of drinkers had chosen cider in the previous four weeks. By 2017 it was fashionable enough to peak at 13.4 per cent but as of September 2020 it is down to 9.2 per cent. Spirits, however, have trended upwards, consumed by 25.3 per cent of alcohol drinkers in 2006 and 30.8 per cent now.
“The majority of alcohol drinkers (66 per cent) drink lightly or moderately, but the disproportionate consumption by those classified as heavy drinkers (29+ drinks in an average four weeks) is striking: just 34 per cent drinkers are responsible for 77 per cent of all alcohol consumed,” Levine said.
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