New data from Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report shows the proportion of Australians who drank spirits was 33% in the year to June 2021. There were 6,621,000 Australians (33.2%) drinking spirits in mid-2021, up from 5,876,000 (29.7%) a year earlier.
Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said: “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.”
It’s a huge turnaround for a country that was once the biggest beer drinking nation in the world. Data from the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory shows that in 1973 Australia hit No.1 – drinking 9.59 litres per capita – however by 2018 it didn’t even make the list.
Also increasing in the past year was consumption of RTDs, which grew from 2,187,000 Australians (11%) up to 2,699,000 Australians (13.5%).
Roy Morgan has attributed the rise in spirits and RTD consumption to Australia enjoying strong economic growth following the lockdowns of 2020.
The number of Australians drinking wine increased by nearly 1 million over the past year from 8,323,000 Australians (42%) to 9,237,000 (46.3%) – an increase of 4.3% points over the year.
“Wine drinking has increased significantly in popularity for both genders with a majority of 50.5% of women now drinking wine, up 3.7% points on a year ago, and 41.9% of men drinking wine, an even larger increase of 4.8% points,” Levine said.
“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% points on a year ago.”
“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,” Levine said. “This new trend has continued throughout the first half of 2021.
“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?”
Data from mobile ordering technology company Me&u shows that the trend is being echoed in the hospitality industry. It saw a 400% increase in spirits growth from March 2020 to March 2021, with sales of vodka and gin on the platform doubling in the past year.