Alcohol in Australia: Wine emerges as most popular alcoholic beverage Down Under

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

Wine has topped the list of alcoholic beverages in terms of popularity amongst Australian consumers, beating beer and other spirits. ©Getty Images
Wine has topped the list of alcoholic beverages in terms of popularity amongst Australian consumers, beating beer and other spirits. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Australia, Alcohol, Wine, Beer

Wine has topped the list of alcoholic beverages in terms of popularity amongst Australian consumers, beating beer and other spirits.

Recent research from Roy Morgan conducted on over 50,000 consumers has revealed that over an average four weeks, 67.5% of Australians of legal drinking age (18 and over) will drink at least one form of alcoholic beverage.

The report showed that some 42.8% of Australians consume will consume wine at least once, as opposed to beer (38.2%) and spirits (26.3%).

Cider weighed in at 11.4% of the population, followed by ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic beverages (10.8%), liqueurs (6.5%) and fortified wine (4.9%).

In terms of volume though, beer dominated the charts at 45% of total Australian alcohol consumption, over 15% more than its closest competitor wine (29.1%) and far beyond second runner-up spirits (13.2%).

According to Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine, men make up the major bulk of numbers for beer in the country.

“[Beer] comprises a huge 58.4% share of all alcohol consumed by men by volume compared to only 19.5% for second-placed wine,” ​said Levine.

However, a deeper analysis of the beer-drinking habits of Australian men reveals the tradition may be on a long-term decline – Today, beer comprises only 46.7% of the volume of alcohol drunk by 18-24 year old men compared to 51% [in] 2014 and an even higher 62.1% a decade ago in 2009.

The third most-popular alcohol (in terms of volume) with men was spirits (12.2%), RTD (4.9%), cider (2.6%) liqueurs (1%), fortified wine (0.8%) and other types of alcohol (0.6%).

As for women, wine took 48.2% of total volume consumed, beating out beer (18.3%) by more than two times. This was followed by spirits (15.2%), RTD (7.5%) cider (5.8%), liqueurs (2%), fortified wine (1.1%) and other types of alcohol (1.9%).

“[The] drinking habits of Australians are changing,”​ added Levine.

Alcohol consumption down overall

One of the major changes observed was that overall, alcohol consumption is on the downturn in the country.

“Alcohol has often been considered to have a central role in the social life of many Australians however [this research] shows that a declining proportion of Australians are now drinking alcohol,” ​said Levine.

“Now just over two-thirds of Australians (67.5%) drink alcohol in an average four weeks, down 2.6% points from five years ago (70.1%).”

As compared to five years ago in 2014, wine saw the greatest decline in terms of population consumption at 2.3% (42.8% in 2019 vs 45.1% in 2014), followed by liqueurs (down 1.2%), RTD (down 0.9%) and beer (0.6%).

That said, in terms of volume, wine saw an increase of 2.4% as compared to 2014, whereas beer saw a decline of 2.8%.

Looking overseas

With wine popularity on the decline in the country, this could be a major reason that Australian wine brands are increasingly looking to the exports market, for example to China.

Recent research has shown that although French wines still top the list of imported wines in China, Australia’s growth rate ‘far exceeds’ that of France​.

China Association for Importers & Exporters of Wine & Spirits Secretary-General Wang Xuwei said that: “In 2017, except for Australia, other major producing countries reduced production, and the reduction in supply naturally led to price increases. But for the Chinese market, prices are unlikely to rise sharply because the market will not accept it.”​

International competitions such as the International Wine Challenge​ also provide a platform for Australian wine brands to showcase their products on a global scale, which could contribute greatly towards export opportunities.

Related topics: Markets, Industry growth, Oceania, Beverages

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