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Latest release

Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia

Provides annual volume of alcohol available for consumption by types of alcoholic beverage

Reference period
2017 - 2018

Key statistics

  • 191.2 million litres of pure alcohol was available for consumption.
  • This equates to 9.51 litres of pure alcohol available per person.
  • 12.43 litres per person was consumed by the 77% of persons who consumed alcohol last year.

Summary

Pure alcohol consumption

An estimated 191.2 million litres of pure alcohol was available for consumption from alcoholic beverages in Australia.

  • This was an increase from the 187.6 million litres that was available for consumption in the previous year.
  • Spirits and Ready to Drink (RTDs) beverages led the increase with a 7.0% rise (an extra 2.5 million litres), and
  • Beer increased 2.5% (or 1.8 million litres).

These rises were offset by modest declines in:

  • Wine down 0.2% (or 170 thousand litres), and
  • Cider down 9.0% (or 471 thousand litres).

Of the total amount of pure alcohol available for consumption:

  • Beer contributed 39.0% (74.6 million litres),
  • Wine 38.6% (73.9 million litres),
  • Spirits/RTDs 19.9% (38.0 million litres), and
  • Cider 2.5% (4.8 million litres).

Over the last five years;

  • Beer consumption has declined 0.7%,
  • Wine and spirits/RTDs increased 5.0% each, and
  • Cider increased 11.8%.

Per capita consumption

9.51 litres of pure alcohol was consumed for each person aged 15 years and over. This was a slight increase on the 9.48 litres available in the previous year, however the overall per capita trend over the last decade shows a decline of around 1.1% per year. This is equal to on average 2.08 standard drinks consumed daily, unchanged from the previous year. 

Download
  1. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.
  2. Spirits includes Ready to Drink (pre-mixed) beverages.
     

Table 1 - Pure alcohol available for consumption

Year ended 30 JuneBeerWine(a)SpiritsRTDs(b)Cider(c)Total
Volume of pure alcohol ('000 litres)
201375 116r70 35624 03112 130r4 276r185 909
201475 862r71 11423 17411 610r5 236r186 996
201572 102r72 937r23 43710 962r6 316r185 754
201675 371r73 69424 28011 301r5 907r190 553
201772 778r74 064r24 25111 225r5 252r187 570
201874 60473 89426 55611 4124 781191 247
Per capita consumption of pure alcohol(d) (litres)
20134.04r3.791.290.65r0.23r10.00
2014r4.02r3.761.230.61r0.28r9.90
20153.76r3.801.220.57r0.33r9.69
20163.87r3.791.250.58r0.30r9.80
20173.68r3.741.230.57r0.27r9.48
20183.713.671.320.570.249.51
r revised (see paragraphs 5-9 of the Methodology page).
a. A number of changes in methodology have occurred from 2008-09 to 2017-18, therefore, comparisons between these years should be interpreted with caution. See paragraphs 21 to 29 of the Methodology page for details.
b. Ready to Drink (pre-mixed) beverages.
c. See paragraphs 41 to 50 of the Methodology page for information on how estimates of cider were calculated.
d. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.
 
Download
  1. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.
  2. RTDs are Ready to Drink (pre-mixed) beverages.
     

National Health Survey and consumption of alcohol

Apparent consumption of alcohol figures overestimate the level of alcohol consumed because adjustments have not been made for;

  • Storage,
  • Wastage, and
  • Other factors such as alcohol used in cooking.

On the other hand, the per capita estimates under-estimate consumption among alcohol consumers because many people never actually consume alcohol.

According to the 2017-18 National Health Survey (NHS), the proportion of Australians aged 15 years and over who had consumed alcohol within the last 12 months has consistently decreased over time with;

  • 80.5% consuming in 2007-08, and
  • 76.5% consuming in 2017-18.

Based on the population who reported having consumed alcohol within the last 12 months, per capita consumption of pure alcohol in 2017-18 was 12.43 litres per year. This is equivalent to 2.72 standard drinks per day on average, similar with the 2.70 observed in 2016-17.

Further adjustments can be made from the NHS for the types of alcohol consumed. This shows average daily consumption of:

  • 2.35 standard drinks of beer per day among beer drinkers,
  • 2.08 standard drinks of wine per day among wine drinkers, and
  • 1.83 standard drinks of spirits/RTDs per day among spirits/RTD drinkers.

Who consumes alcohol?

The proportion of Australians aged 15 years and over who consumed alcohol in the last 12 months varied by demographic characteristic. For example;

  • Males were more likely to consume alcohol than females: 81.8% and 71.4% respectively.
  • People aged 25-64 years were more likely to consume (80.0% on average) compared with both the 15-24 year olds (67.9%) and people aged 65 years and over (71.6%).
  • Overseas-born Australians were less likely to consume than the Australian born population (68.1% and 80.6% respectively).
  • The overseas-born and Australian-born populations each have had similar declines in the proportion of drinkers (around 4 percentage points) over the last decade.

Consumption in the last week

Detailed information about the types and amounts of alcoholic drinks consumed were only collected for people who consumed alcohol in the seven days before interview. This provides a snapshot of consumption patterns as follows:

  • Just over half (52.8%) of the population aged 15 years and over consumed alcohol in any given week in 2017-18.
  • Males were more likely than females to consume alcohol in the last week (60.5% and 45.4% respectively).

In a typical week in 2017-18, around 52.8% (10.3 million) of the population consumed alcohol with:

  • 23.9% consuming beer,
  • 26.7% consuming wine,
  • 15.6% consuming spirits/RTDs, and
  • 3.0% consuming cider.

Consumption and beverage type

  • Beer was more likely to be consumed by males (40.4%) than females (8.0%) in any given week.
  • Wine was more often consumed by females (31.3%) than males (22.0%).
  • Spirits/RTDs were consumed by 17.7% of males and 13.6% of females.

Beer

Consumption of pure alcohol

74.6 million litres of pure alcohol in beer was available for consumption in Australia, this was an increase of 2.5% on the previous year (72.8 million litres).

Per capita consumption

An average of 3.71 litres of alcohol from beer was consumed by Australians aged 15 years and over.

  • This was a 0.8% increase in beer consumption on the previous year (3.68 litres).
  • This was 20.9% less than in 2007-08 and 60.0% less than the 1974-75 peak when 9.22 litres were consumed.

Adjusting for the population who consume beer in a typical week, consumption increases to 10.70 litres, equivalent to 2.35 standard drinks per beer drinker per day.

Strength

Full strength beer made up 79.7% of all pure alcohol in beer available for consumption.

  • Mid strength beer accounted for 17.4% and low strength beer 2.9% of all pure alcohol in beer.
  • Over the last five years, the share of alcohol from beer that was mid strength increased from 15.1% to 17.4%, as alcohol from full strength varieties declined.
     

Table 2 - Beer, pure alcohol available for consumption

Year ended 30 JuneLow strength(a)Mid strength(a)Full strength(a)Total
Volume of pure alcohol ('000 litres)
20132 71010 76961 63875 116
20142 41811 45361 99275 862
20151 99611 16558 94172 102
20161 85612 23661 27975 371
20171 67212 78358 32372 778
20182 16513 00059 43974 604
Per capita consumption of pure alcohol(b) (litres)
20130.150.58r3.324.04
20140.130.613.284.01
20150.100.583.073.76
20160.100.633.153.87
20170.080.652.953.68
20180.110.652.963.71
r revised (see paragraph 8 of the Methodology page).
a. See paragraph 19 of the Methodology page for definitions of low, mid and full strength beer.
b. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.
 

Volume consumed

1,761.0 million litres of beer was available for consumption.

  • This was a 6.0% increase on the previous year (1,661.5 million litres).
  • On a per capita basis, 87.56 litres were consumed per person aged 15 years and over, equivalent to 233 stubbies (375ml).
  • Full strength beer continues to be most commonly consumed, representing 73.6% of the volume of beer consumed.

Over the last 10 years the share of beer consumption by strength has shifted with:

  • Mid strength beer increasing from 15% to 21%,
  • Full strength beer declining from 76% to 74%, and
  • Low strength beer halved from 10% to 5%.
     

Table 3 - Beer, volume available for consumption

Year ended 30 JuneLow strength(a)Mid strength(a)Full strength(a)Total
Volume ('000 litres)
2013102 655307 8151 319 6211 730 091
201493 366328 8851 324 7291 746 979
201575 861319 0461 265 5991 660 505
201670 628349 7461 322 0141 742 389
201769 693369 9781 221 8601 661 531
201888 693377 0581 295 2761 761 027
Per capita consumption(b) (litres)
20135.52r16.56r71.00r93.09
20144.94r17.41r70.13r92.48
2015r3.96r16.64r66.02r86.62
2016r3.63r17.98r67.96r89.57
20173.5218.70r61.76r83.99
 20184.4118.7564.4087.56
r revised (see paragraph 8 of the Methodology page).
a. See paragraph 19 of the Methodology page for definitions of low, mid and full strength beer.
b. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.

Wine

Consumption of pure alcohol

73.9 million litres of pure alcohol in wine was available for consumption. This was down slightly from 74.1 million litres in the previous year.

Per capita consumption

An average of 3.67 litres of pure alcohol from wine was consumed by Australians aged 15 years and over.

  • This was down from the 3.74 litres per capita observed in the previous year.
  • This continues the declining trend of wine consumption from the peak of 4.04 litres per person in 2009-10.

Adjusting for the population who consume wine, per capita consumption was estimated to be 9.49 litres. This is equivalent to 2.08 standard drinks per day among wine drinkers.

Type

The share of pure alcohol in wine by wine type has been relatively stable in recent years.

  • White wine accounted for 46.2% of the alcohol in wine,
  • Red wine made up 40.2%, and
  • Other wines 13.6%.

Table 4 - Wine, pure alcohol available for consumption

Year ended 30 JuneWhite table wineRed table wineOther wines(a)Total
Volume of pure alcohol ('000 litres)
2013r33 284r26 72110 352r70 356
2014r34 215r26 41810 481r71 114
2015(b)r34 839r27 39110 706r72 937
2016(b)r35 649r28 2649 781r73 694
2017(b)r35 532r28 49910 033r74 064
2018(b)34 13929 69410 06173 894
Per capita consumption of pure alcohol(c) (litres)
2013(b)r1.79r1.440.56r3.79
2014(b)r1.81r1.400.55r3.76
2015(b)r1.82r1.430.56r3.80
2016(b)r1.83r1.450.50r3.79
2017(b)r1.80r1.440.51r3.74
2018(b)1.701.480.503.67
r revised (see paragraph 30 of the Methodology page).
a. Other wines are comprised of fortified, sparkling and carbonated wines, vermouth and other wine not elsewhere included.
b. A number of changes in methodology have occurred from 2008-09 to 2017-18, therefore, comparisons between these years should be interpreted with caution. See paragraphs 21 to 29 of the Methodology page for details.
c. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.
 

Volume consumed

568 million litres of wine was available for consumption. This was the largest ever recorded volume, with the second highest being 561 million litres, the previous year.

In per capita terms, this was 28.3 litres, equivalent to 38 standard 750 ml bottles per year or around 6 glasses (standard drinks) per week for each person aged 15 years and over.

Table 5 - Wine, volume available for consumption

Year ended 30 JuneWhite table wineRed table wineOther wines(a)Total
Volume ('000 litres)
2013265 950193 44381 728541 121
2014269 410190 60783 331543 348
2015(b)275 695193 11585 471554 281
2016(b)281 998199 08577 794558 878
2017(b)281 232200 13479 758561 123
2018(b)277 325211 42379 706568 454
Per capita consumption(c) (litres)
2013r14.31r10.41r4.40r29.11
2014r14.26r10.094.41r28.76
2015(b)r14.38r10.07r4.46r28.91
2016(b)r14.50r10.23r4.00r28.73
2017(b)r14.22r10.124.0328.36
2018(b)13.7910.513.9628.26
r revised (see paragraph 8 of the Methodology page).
a. Other wines are comprised of fortified, sparkling and carbonated wines, vermouth and other wine not elsewhere included.
b. A number of changes in methodology have occurred from 2014-15 to 2017-18, therefore, comparisons between these years should be interpreted with caution. See paragraphs 21 to 29 of the Methodology page for details.
c. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.
 

Spirits and Ready to Drink (pre-mixed) beverages

Consumption of pure alcohol

38.0 million litres of pure alcohol from spirits and RTDs was consumed.

  • This was a 7.0% increase on the previous year (35.5 million litres).
  • Spirits increased 9.5% to 26.6 million and RTDs increased 1.7%.
  • Over the last decade total consumption of pure alcohol decreased 2.2%, driven by a 39.0% fall in in RTDs which more than outweighed the 31.8% increase in spirits.

Per capita consumption

  • An average of 1.89 litres of pure alcohol from spirits and RTDs was consumed by Australians aged 15 years and over. This was equivalent to 0.4 standard drinks per day.
  • This represents a 5.3% increase on the previous year.

Over the last decade consumption of spirits and RTDs have decreased by 17.6%.

  • This decline continues to be driven by RTDs, falling 48.6%. Most of this fall occurred in the five years to 2012-13. In contrast consumption of spirits increased 11.0%.
  • Since 2014-15 consumption of RTDs has remained steady at 0.57, whilst spirits continue to fluctuate year on year.

Table 6 - Spirits and ready to drink beverages, pure alcohol available for consumption​​​​​​​

Year ended 30 JuneSpiritsRTDsTotal
Volume of pure alcohol ('000 litres)
201324 03112 13036 161
201423 17411 61034 784
2015r23 43710 962r34 400
201624 28011 30135 581
2017r24 25111 225r35 476
201826 55611 41237 968
Per capita consumption of pure alcohol(a) (litres)
20131.290.65r1.95
20141.230.611.84
20151.220.571.79
20161.250.581.83
20171.230.57r1.79
20181.320.571.89
r revised (see paragraph 8 of the Methodology page).
a. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.
 

Cider

Consumption of pure alcohol

4.8 million litres of pure alcohol was available from cider.

Per capita consumption

An average of 0.24 litres of pure alcohol from cider was consumed per person aged 15 years and over.

Table 7 - Cider(a), pure alcohol available for consumption

Year ended 30 JuneVolume of pure alcohol ('000 litres)Per capita consumption of pure alcohol(b) (litres)
2013r4 276r0.23
2014r5 236r0.28
2015r6 316r0.33
2016r5 907r0.30
2017r5 252r0.27
20184 7810.24
r revised (see paragraph 50 of the Methodology page).
a. See paragraphs 41 to 50 of the Methodology page for information on how estimates of cider were calculated.
b. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.
 

Over the past 60 years, the per capita trend in apparent consumption of alcohol may be viewed as occurring in several phases:

  • First was a steep increase from the early 1960s leading to the peak of 13.1 litres per capita in 1974-75. Consumption around this level was maintained until the early 1980s when annual consumption fell consistently through to the early 1990s, and from that point hovered around 10 litres per capita for around a decade.
  • Consumption increased once again over the period 2002-03 to 2008-09 where it reached 10.84 litres per capita.
  • Since 2008-09, consumption has declined reaching 9.51 litres per capita in 2017-18, only slightly higher than the 9.48 in 2016-17.
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  1. Litres per person aged 15 years and over.
     

The overall trend in apparent consumption has been driven by large shifts in the types of alcoholic beverage consumed.

  • Beer had a major impact on the early increase in overall consumption and the subsequent periods of decline.
  • Beer went from making up almost three-quarters (73.5%) of all alcohol consumed in 1967-68 to 39.0% in 2017-18 as the per capita consumption of beer almost halved over the period.
  • Wine over the 60 year period has grown from 14.4% to 38.6%.
  • Despite beer's declining share of total consumption, beer continues to be the leading source of alcohol, with 3.71 litres of pure alcohol from beer consumed per capita in 2017-18 compared with 3.67 litres of alcohol from wine.
  • Although the proportion of alcohol consumed from wine (38.6%) is now almost equal to beer, the per capita consumption of alcohol from wine has declined since the peak in 2009-10 of 4.04 litres.
  • Wine consumption over the last decade has declined by an average of 1% per year. Despite this decline, wine still managed to slightly increase its share by 4.2 percentage points over that period because of the larger declines in consumption of beer and, to a lesser extent, spirits/RTDs.
  • Spirits (and RTDs) have also increased share over the long term from 12.2% in 1967-68 to 19.9% in 2017-18. However, the 2017-18 share is down from the 2007-08 peak of 21.3% due to a decline averaging 2.6% per year over the last decade.
  • While cider was estimated to have made an insignificant contribution to total alcohol consumption prior to 2004-05, since that time it has grown to make up 2.5% of alcohol consumed in 2017-18.
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  1. Spirits includes Ready to Drink (pre-mixed) beverages.
     

Data downloads

Apparent consumption of alcohol 2017-18