Drinkers Down Under switching from beer to wine

Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:56am EST
 
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - The iconic image of an Australian with a long cool beer in hand may not hold true forever, with statistics showing Australians are drinking less beer these days than at any time in the past 61 years.

In a report titled "No Longer a Nation of Beer Drinkers," the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that beer consumption has fallen gradually but consistently since the 1960s, while consumption of wines and spirits has increased.

"Over the past 50 years, the level of apparent consumption of different alcoholic beverages has changed substantially," the report said.

In terms of volume, beer consumption peaked in 1948-1949 at around 190 liters per person, but by 2008-2009 that had decreased to 107 liters per person.

At the start of the 1960s, beer made up 76 percent of all pure alcohol consumed in Australia, but in recent years, this has fallen to 44 percent.

Wine consumption has increased threefold over the same time, to 36 percent, while the intake of spirits has nearly doubled to 20 percent.

The report noted that increased consumption was likely to have been affected by numerous factors including different age patterns in the population, increasing affluence and the growth of the Australian wine industry.

Changing taxes and the introduction of random breath testing are a few of the factors that could have cut consumption.   Continued...

 
<p>Wayne Carolan (R) shares a beer with his friend Grant Wooler at Wooler's house, which is partially covered by floodwaters in Depot Hill in Rockhampton, Queensland January 5, 2011. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>