Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report shows an increase in the number of Australians drinking spirits, and if the trend continues more Australians will be drinking spirits than beer by this time next year.

The report claims the proportion of Australians who drink alcohol increased by four percentage points to 69.7 per cent in the 12 months to June 2021. This was driven by increases in the number of Australians drinking wine, spirits and RTDs, while the number of Australians drinking beer remaining virtually unchanged.

The number of Australians drinking wine increased by nearly one million over the past year from 8,323,000 Australians (42.0 per cent) to 9,237,000 (46.3 per cent), there were 6,621,000 Australians (33.2 per cent) drinking spirits in mid-2021, up from 5,876,000 (29.7 per cent) a year earlier and RTDs increased from 2,187,000 Australians (11.0 per cent) up to 2,699,000 Australians (13.5 per cent).

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said if the trends of the last year were to continue over the next year the number of Australians drinking spirits is set to overtake those drinking beer.

“The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early in 2020 led to a turnaround in the long-term trend of declining alcohol consumption as a share of population which we had seen consistently over the last 15 years. This new trend has continued throughout the first half of 2021,” Levine said.

“Nearly 70 per cent of Australian adults now consume alcohol in an average four-week period with the increases in consumption for wine, spirits and RTDs (Ready-to-drinks) driving this increase.

“Over 9.2 million Australians (46.3 per cent of adults) now drink wine in an average four weeks, up 4.3 per cent points from a year ago. The gap between wine and second-placed beer has now widened to over 10 per cent points with 35.6 per cent of Australians now drinking beer, virtually unchanged from 35.8 per cent a year ago.

“Importantly, wine drinking has increased significantly in popularity for both genders with a majority of 50.5 per cent of women now drinking wine, up 3.7 per cent points on a year ago, and 41.9 per cent of men drinking wine, an even larger increase of 4.8 per cent points. The number of people drinking wine also increased across the age spectrum and those most likely to be drinking wine are aged 65-79; although the increase in this age group was smaller than any other at 0.8 per cent points on a year ago.”

She added: “The other big winners over the last year have been spirits and RTDs. Nearly a third of Australian adults, 33.2 per cent, now drink spirits, an increase of 3.5 per cent points on a year ago and 13.5 per cent now drink RTDs, up 2.5 per cent points.

“The increasing consumption of spirits began well before the pandemic and if current trends continue there will be more Australians drinking spirits than drinking beer this time next year. At present there are 7,094,000 beer drinkers compared to 6,621,000 spirit drinkers – a gap of only 473,000 and the smallest on record.

“Consumption of other alcoholic beverages hasn’t benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic and the series of lockdowns to hit Australia over the last year with the number of Australians consuming liqueurs virtually unchanged on a year ago while fewer are now drinking cider or fortified wine.

“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 reaches vaccination targets over the next few months on the road to ‘COVID-normal’ and living with the virus.

“The big question for the alcohol market going forward is can the trends of the last 18 months during the pandemic with increasing numbers of Australians consuming alcohol (in particular wine, spirits and RTDs) continue once the pandemic over or will the prior longer-term trends on alcohol consumption reassert themselves when the lockdowns and forced business closures are over?”

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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *