The latest data from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has shown that Australians are continuing to maintain a mature and responsible relationship with their alcohol use.

The per-capita consumption of alcohol is at a 50-year low, while risky drinking rates are falling and consumption levels are also declining. The data also shows that fewer Australians are drinking daily, down from 8.5 per cent in 2001 to 5.4 per cent in 2019, in addition those who enjoy a glass or two a week is also down, falling from 39 per cent to 34 per cent over the same period.

Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) CEO Andrew Wilsmore said the data shows a significant cultural shift in Australia, with moderation being the new norm.

“Australians are making sensible choices and choosing to act responsibility when it comes to enjoying alcohol,” Wilsmore said.

He added: “No-one who works hard at crafting a beer, wine or spirit wants Australians harmed by their product and over several decades of partnering with Governments or by investing in industry-led programmes and initiatives, it is pleasing to see the proportion of people exceeding lifetime risk guidelines declining from 21 per cent in 2001 to 16.8 per cent in 2019.

“It’s a trend that says Australian are increasingly capable of making sensible, personal decisions around their own consumption.

“Public education campaigns and police RBT enforcement has clearly made a big difference. The AIHW data shows driving a car was the riskiest activity undertaken while under the influence of alcohol and has fallen more than 40 per cent from 14.3 to 9.9 per cent of drinkers over nine years.”

Another significant change has come with underage and young Australians and their drinking habits, with underage Australians in particular, heeding the messages about abstaining from alcohol. The AIHW data shows that in 2019 72.5 per cent of 14-17 year olds had never had a drink, up from 39 per cent just 12 years earlier.

Wilsmore said: “We think more carefully about how we drink these days. Australians are making conscious decisions to moderate and drink responsibly, with big trends during COIVD seeing Australians choosing to drink less, but spending more on a premium product, or exploring low and zero-alcohol products.

“It’s a strong message to those want to want to regulate drinkers ever further. Australians are doing the right thing by drinking responsibly and at the same time backing an industry that supports the livelihoods of 485,000 people and generates $52 billion in economic value.”

As well as drinking habits, Australian tastes have also changed, with wine growing in popularity. Where beer was the most popular drink 50 years ago, accounting for 73.5 per cent of all alcohol sales it now accounts for 39 per cent of sales. Wine has increased in popularity from 14.4 per cent to 38.4 per cent, while spirits, cocktails and packaged ready-to-drink products now represent 19.9 per cent up from 12.2 per cent.

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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