"Across all alcoholic beverages, there were 9.9 litres of pure alcohol available for consumption in 2012-13 for every person in Australia aged 15 years and over," said Louise Gates, director of health at the ABS; "This is the lowest level since the mid-‘Nineties.”
The decrease is mainly due to a continuation of the downward trend in apparent consumption of beer, at the same time as a flattening-out in wine consumption.
"In terms of pure alcohol, consumption of beer has more than halved since the peak in the mid-‘Seventies, and is now at the lowest level since 1945-46,” said Gates.
"For wine, there has been a steady increase in people's consumption over the long-term but recently this trend appears to have plateaued, and in fact, per-person consumption of wine has decreased slightly over the past three years.”
Ready-to-drink beverages have also seen a drop over the past five years, while consumption of spirits has remained relatively steady.
However, beer still comprised the greatest proportion of all pure alcohol consumed in Australia at 41%, followed by wine (37%), spirits (13%), and ready-to-drink beverages (7%). Cider is estimated to account for a small but growing proportion, at 2%.
Immigration part of the reason
Speaking to The Australian, Michael Livingston, of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW, attributed the reduction in drinking to increased immigration from Asian and Muslim countries but said that binge drinking was still on the rise.
“There’s certainly been an increase in the number of people not drinking over the last decade, particularly among young people,’’ he said. “Heavy drinkers are still drinking as heavily as they did 10 years ago but moderate and light drinkers have cut back.
“More people have come from a multicultural background where drinking is not so widespread.’’
Beer writer,Matt Kirkegaard told Good Food that he believed beer drinkers were beginning to take a “less is more” approach.
He said: ”They’d rather have one or two beers that they really enjoy than a six-pack that is really only giving them some refreshment and a hangover.”