27/05/2010 - 14:39

Aussie beer guzzling hits 60-year low

27/05/2010 - 14:39
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For a country widely recognised for its love of frosty ales, Australia's nation of beer drinkers seem to be losing taste for the amber liquid.

For a country widely recognised for its love of frosty ales, Australia's nation of beer drinkers seem to be losing taste for the amber liquid.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians continue to cut back on beer consumption, slumping to 60-year lows, pointing to a shift in focus towards quality over quantity.

Latest data from the ABS indicated that in the year to June the apparent consumption of alcohol in the form of beer fell from 4.51 litres per person to 4.49 litres.

Beer consumption has been falling almost every year over the past decade, falling by around 13 per cent over the period, with current beer consumption at the lowest levels since the 1950s.

Commsec chief economist, Craig James suggested that beer consumption had steadily risen from the 1930s, peaking in the 1970s when tighter drink driving laws were introduced.

"It is estimated that beer consumption rose from 2.55 litres per person in 1939 to 6.4 litres in 1979 before trending lower over the period since," Mr James said.

He said that, over time, Australians have switched from quantity to quality, cutting back on mainstream brands and embracing imported beers and products from craft brewers.

"Over the past three years apparent consumption of low strength beers has slumped by 25 per cent whereas consumption of mid strength beer has been constant while consumption of full strength beer has edged higher," Mr James said.

Meanwhile wine consumption has actually eased modestly since 2005, falling from 3.59 litres per person to 3.56 litres per person, after consistently increasing from the 1930s to the mid 2000s.

And the wino's of Australia seem to prefer a SSB or chardonnay to a shiraz or cab sav with white wine still the more popular option (1.71 litres per person) compared with red wine (1.29 litres) and other wines like port (0.57 litres).

"Wine hasn't yet overtaken beer but the gap has certainly narrowed," Mr James indicated.

"In 2009, 63 million litres of alcohol was available in the form of wine, compared with just over 79 million litres of beer."

He also highlighted the growing level of competition in the market as a key issue for the industry.

"In the past, beer or wine production may have been seen as a licence to print money, but now the focus is ensuring your brand cuts through and grows market share in a very competitive market," he said.

"Consumers are choosey; competition is strong, constraining margins. And given the wine glut, conditions are especially tough for winemakers."



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