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Alcohol Available for Consumption: Year ended December 2012
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  25 February 2013
Commentary

Total alcoholic beverage volume falls

The total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption fell 15 million litres (3.3 percent) to 457 million litres in the year ended December 2012. This follows a 0.3 percent decrease for the December 2011 year and a 0.6 percent increase for the December 2010 year.

The decrease was due to a fall in the volume of beer available, down 20 million litres (6.6 percent). This was partly offset by a rise in the volume of wine available, up 4.3 million litres (4.4 percent).

In the 2012 year, alcohol available in the December quarter rose 4.1 percent compared with the same quarter in the previous year. In the March, June, and September quarters the volume available fell.

Beer volume falls for most strengths

The total volume of beer available for consumption fell 20 million litres (6.6 percent), to 280 million litres in 2012.

As a proportion of the total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption, beer has fallen from 81 percent in 1996 to 61 percent in 2012.

The volume available fell for low- and medium-strength beer, but rose for high-strength beer.

Changes, by alcohol content, were:

  • less than 2.501 percent fell 645,000 litres (22 percent), to 2.3 million litres
  • 2.501 to 4.350 percent fell 15 million litres (8.8 percent), to 157 million litres
  • 4.351 to 5.000 percent fell 9.6 million litres (8.3 percent), to 106 million litres
  • more than 5.000 percent rose 5.5 million litres (62 percent), to 14 million litres.

Graph, Volume of beer available for consumption, by beer strength, 2002 to 2012.  

Wine volume up 4.4 percent over the year

The total volume of wine available for consumption in 2012 was 102 million litres, up 4.3 million litres (4.4 percent) compared with 2011.

  • Table wine made from grapes increased 2.2 percent, to 91 million litres.
  • Table wine made from other fruit, vegetables, or other aromatic substances rose 31 percent, to 10 million litres. Cider is included in this category but its value cannot be separately identified.  

Graph, Volume of table wine available for consumption, by wine type, 2002 to 2012.  

Fortified wine (greater than 14 percent alcohol by volume) decreased 80,000 litres (14 percent), to 512,000 litres.

Wine contributed 22 percent of the total volume of alcoholic beverage available in 2012, compared with 16 percent in 1996.

Volume of spirits and spirit-based drinks steady

The volume of spirit-based drinks (containing 23 percent alcohol or less) increased 78,000 litres (0.1 percent), to 62 million litres.

The volume of spirits (containing more than 23 percent alcohol) increased 76,000 litres (0.6 percent), to 13 million litres.

Spirits and spirit-based drinks contributed 16 percent of the total volume of alcoholic beverage available in 2012, compared with 3.0 percent in 1996.

Graph, Volume of spirits and spirit-based drinks available for consumption, 2002 to 2012.  

Volume of pure alcohol available falls 0.6 percent

Pure alcohol available for consumption measures the alcohol content of the various alcoholic beverages.

The total volume of pure alcohol available for consumption fell 0.6 percent, to 33 million litres in 2012, a decrease of 216,000 litres since 2011.

The volume of pure alcohol available from:

  • beer fell 784,000 litres (6.1 percent), to 12 million litres
  • wine increased 471,000 litres (4.4 percent), to 11 million litres
  • spirit-based drinks (not more than 23 percent alcohol content) increased 64,000 litres (1.5 percent), to 4.4 million litres
  • spirits (more than 23 percent alcohol content) increased 32,000 litres (0.6 percent), to 5.4 million litres.

Graph, Total volume of pure alcohol available for consumption, by beverage type, 2005 to 2012.

 Graph, Litres of pure alcohol available for consumption, per person aged 15 years and over, 2005 to 2012.

Average number of standard drinks per person falls

In 2012, 9.3 litres of pure alcohol were available per person aged 15 years and over, down from 9.5 litres in 2011. This is equivalent to an average of 2.0 standard drinks per person (aged 15 years and over) per day, down from 2.1 standard drinks per person per day in 2011.

The proportions of pure alcohol available for consumption from the different alcoholic beverages have changed over time. Between 1996 and 2012, the proportion of total pure alcohol available for consumption from: 

  • wine has increased from 30 percent to 34 percent
  • spirits (including spirit-based drinks) has increased from 16 percent to 30 percent
  • beer has decreased from 54 percent to 36 percent.

Graph, Beverage type as proportion of total pure alcohol available, 1996 to 2012.

For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the ‘Downloads’ box.

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