New data from Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report shows the proportion of Australians who drink alcohol dropped by 1.8 percentage points to 67.9 per cent in the 12 months to June 2022.

While wine is still Australia’s most popular drink the number of Australians drinking it dropped from 9,237,000 (46.3 per cent) to 8,938,000 (44.6 per cent) – a decrease of 1.7 per cent points (-297,000) from a year ago.

Beer also lost ground in the last 12 months with 6,666,000 Australians (33.3 per cent) now drinking beer, down 2.3 percentage points (-428,000) on a year ago. Spirits are clearly the third favourite type of alcohol with 6,083,000 Australians (30.4 per cent) now drinking spirits, down 2.8 percentage points (-538,000) on mid-2021.

While the number of Australians drinking beer, wine and spirits declined, RTDs – driven by the popularity of hard seltzers – were the standout alcoholic beverage of the last 12 months with the category increasing from 2,669,000 Australians (13.5 per cent) up to 3,349,000 Australians (16.7 per cent) – an increase of 3.2 percentage points (+680,000).

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said: “Although the ‘big three’ alcohol types of wine, beer and spirits are all down on a year ago the consumption of wine and spirits is still well above pre-pandemic levels. Wine remains the most popular alcoholic drink with 44.6 per cent of Australians adults drinking wine in an average four weeks. By age, those most likely to be drinking wine are aged 65-79 (51.1 per cent), however only people aged 50-64 have increased their wine consumption from a year ago, up by 1.2 percentage points.

“The standout performer of the last few years has been RTDs (ready-to-drinks) which have kept increasing despite the ending of lockdowns and almost all pandemic-related restrictions. A record high 16.7 per cent of Australians, up 3.2 percentage points (+680,000) from a year ago, now drink RTDs in an average four weeks.

“A deeper look into the RTDs market shows the increasing popularity of seltzers over the last few years is continuing to drive the increasing consumption of RTDs generally. ‘Hard seltzers’ began to hit the Australian market in significant numbers in 2019, just before the pandemic struck, and these newer alcoholic products are still attracting an increasing array of customers.

“Although beer did enjoy an increase in consumption during the last two years only 33.3 per cent of Australian adults now drink beer in an average four weeks. The decline in beer drinking since 2005 has been more sustained than any other type of alcohol and the early signs are that the short-term pandemic impact on beer drinking has not been enough to halt the long-term trend.

“Roy Morgan will be keeping a close eye on the post-pandemic trends we are already seeing in the alcohol market during 2022. The emerging trends suggest consumption of wine and spirits looks set to return to pre-pandemic levels while RTDs, and ‘hard seltzers in particular’ rise in significance and beer consumption continues its long-term decline.”

This article first appeared on our sister title The Shout.

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