Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) has responded to the latest report released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (Fare), saying it has not accounted for the closure of hospitality venues, tax increases and research that shows more Australians have reduced their drinking, than have increased.

The report suggests an increase in retail sales led to higher volume of alcohol sold, rather than that Australians were paying more for their drinks and that hospitality was either closed or had restricted trading.

ABA’s CEO, Andrew Wilsmore, said: “Australians didn’t drink more during the pandemic, they merely changed the sales channel with beers, wines and spirits being purchased at the bottle shop, rather than pubs, clubs and restaurants. The closure or limits on hospitality, sport and family gatherings has significantly reduced occasion based drinking, and the reality is that as many as half a million jobs were lost and proud businesses have been forced to close.

“Packaged liquor sales are a value number, rather than a direct indicator of volume. Australians have modified their drinking habits during Covid and are choosing to spend a little more on a premium product, or are conscious of their wellbeing which has seen the sales of zero-alcohol products more than double.”

Wilsmore added that these two trends would lead to higher value sales of alcohol, but do not necessary equate to more alcohol being consumed.

He said: “The value of alcohol sales also naturally increases twice a year due to the Government indexing tax rates on beer and spirits to inflation.

“Covid has been a challenging time for many Australians, so it has been pleasing to see the additional Government support into treatment and rehabilitation, and that our own industry commitments to responsible marketing and consumption are taken seriously.

“A number of studies have confirmed that while some Australians did increase their consumption, a larger number of Australians reduced their drinking, particularly younger Australians who were denied the ability to socialise in hospitality and entertainment venues.”

The ABA also pointed to research from the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods COVID-19 monitoring program, which more Australians reduced their drinking (27 per cent) than increased it (20.2 per cent) during the pandemic.

In addition the research showed the vast majority of Australians (83.2 per cent) drink moderately or abstain from alcohol a 4.2 percentage improvement from 2001, and the highest on record.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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