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New Zealand drinking less alcohol, says research

By Ankush Chibber , 21-May-2012

Even wine consumption is steadily declining in New Zealand, new research shows
Even wine consumption is steadily declining in New Zealand, new research shows

The proportion of people consuming alcoholic beverages in New Zealand is continuing to decline, a report suggests.

A survey conducted by Roy Morgan Research, involving 12,000 New Zealanders,  showed that 74% of respondents over 18 consumed alcohol over an average four-week between January 2011-12. This was a lower consumption rate when compared with 79% for January 2007-08.

Apart from cider, consumed by 9% of New Zealanders in 2012 compared with 3% four years ago, the consumption of most types of alcoholic drinks declined.

Beer, spirits et al down the drain

“Alcohol consumption continues to decrease in New Zealand,” said Pip Elliott, client services director at Roy Morgan Research. He pointed out that wine remains the most popular alcoholic beverage for New Zealanders aged over 18.

“However, wine consumption has been steadily decreasing over the past four years, and is now only marginally ahead of beer,” said Elliott.

Elliott said that “it is important for marketers of alcoholic drinks to understand the differences in each category as they are not one uniform segment.”

The study showed that wine consumption for example dropped from 58% to 51%, while the consumption of beer dropped from 52% to 49%. Spirits also dropped from 39% to 35%.

Unsurprising decline

Katherine Rich, chief executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC), told FoodNavigator-Asia that the findings were unsurprising. She did however stress on caution on overestimating the survey.

“It’s important to note that this was a self-reported poll in that people had to remember their consumption, be accurate and speak truthfully. Researching alcohol issues can be difficult because some respondents will under-report because they think that is the right thing to do,” Rich said.

However, citing the damp economy, Rich said that a corresponding decline in sales would not be surprising. “A lot of categories are currently flat as many New Zealanders super-glue their hands in their pockets refusing to get their wallets out so it would not surprise me in the least if some sales of liquor had reduced.”

Campaigns and laws dampening consumption

Rich added that there have been some highly successful social marketing campaigns recently run by the country’s Alcohol Advisory Council namely the “Ease up on the drink” campaign and also a New Zealand Transport Authority “Ghost Chips/Legend” campaign.

“Both campaigns have really resonated with our communities and I believe have had a positive effect on getting people to drink moderately, not binge drink or address alcoholism within families,” she said.

An Alcohol Reform Bill is currently going through New Zealand Parliament and Rich said that while the food and beverage industry has a few lasting concerns about restrictions on promotions and competitions, it is on the whole supportive of the changes in the bill.

"Our Minister of Justice, Judith Collins, has struck the right balance between focusing on reducing alcohol-related harm and not punishing New Zealanders who enjoy drinking in moderation,” she said. 

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