New data from Roy Morgan claims that the number of Australians who drink alcohol has increased in the 12 months to September 2021, but Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) has told The Shout, this does not equate to an increase in consumption or harmful drinking.

Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report shows a total of 13,894,000 Australians (69.6 per cent) aged 18+ consumed alcohol in an average four-week period, up from 13,179,000 (66.4 per cent) a year earlier.

Wine, spirits and RTDs showed significant increases, while the number of people drinking beer also increased.

The number of Australians drinking wine increased from 8,539,000 Australians (43.0 per cent) to 9,263,000 (46.4 per cent) over the year, while, there were 6,670,000 Australians (33.4 per cent) drinking spirits in mid-2021, up from 6,121,000 (30.8 per cent) a year earlier.

The results were not as positive for other types of alcohol with fewer Australians now drinking cider, liqueurs and fortified wines compared to a year ago.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said: “In the year to June 2006 nearly three-quarters of Australian adults, 73.5 per cent, drunk an alcoholic beverage in an average four weeks. This incidence trended down and reached a low point of 65.7 per cent during the nation-wide lockdown of the June quarter 2020.

“Roy Morgan will be keeping a keen eye on the developing trends in the alcohol market during the remainder of 2021 and into next year as Australia continues to open up and enters a period of ‘COVID-normal’. The return of a range of leisure options, including travel, will provide a new challenge for the alcohol market that has enjoyed a wave of growth over the last 18 months.”

And although the number of people consuming alcohol has increased, ABA CEO Andrew Wilsmore has told The Shout, this should not lead people to think there are increased levels of problem drinking.

“It is important to note that the survey results showing an increase in the number of Australians choosing to have a drink does not equate to either increased consumption of alcohol or increased levels of harmful drinking,” Wilsmore said.

“The good news is that harmful drinking trends are all in the decline, and a large amount of Covid drinking behaviour research, including the most recent Wastewater Analysis Report, has shown that the majority of Australians chose to reduce the amount they drank during lockdown or had kept their drinking at pre-Covid levels.

Data from national wastewater monitoring showed that Australians have continued to drink responsibly throughout the pandemic.

According to last month’s National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report, the levels of alcohol in wastewater has remained within the ranges observed prior to the start of the pandemic.

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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