By Andrew Starke
Beer consumption in Australia has fallen gradually but consistently since the 1960s, while wine and spirits consumption have increased, according to figures released today (July 18).
This supports research on retail sales released earlier this month.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) research found there had been a drop in overall per capita alcohol consumption since its peak in the 1970s.
At the start of the 1960s, beer made up three quarters (76 percent) of all pure alcohol consumed, but in recent years this has fallen to under half (44 percent).
Wine has increased threefold over the same time (12 percent of all pure alcohol consumed in 1960- 61 to 36 percent in 2008-09) while spirits have nearly doubled (12 percent to 20 percent).
According to the ABS report, in 1960-61 Australians consumed the equivalent of 9.3 litres of pure alcohol per person, climbing to a high of 13.1 litres in 1974-75.
Consumption started to fall in the early 1980s, hitting a low of 9.8 litres in 1995-96.
Since then, it has crept up again to 10.4 litres in 2008-09, which is still a fifth lower than the 1974-75 peak.
In terms of volume, Australia's annual beer consumption increased sharply in the decade after 1944-45, doubling from 77 litres per person to 155 litres in 1954-55.
In 2008-09 Australians consumed an average 107 litres of beer.
Wine was at its lowest after the war, at only 7 litres per person and has increased to 29 litres in 2008-09.