28 Heady Alcohol Usage Statistics

A nationally recognized beer day and the frequently evoked beer o’clock should tell anyone what time it is in the land down under.

But apart from the stereotypes and the jovial language, how much do we know about current alcohol trends in Australia? Other than lagers and ales, what else do Aussies fancy? Is the alcoholic beverage market shrinking or expanding, and at what rate? 

To help answer these questions, we brewed the freshest alcohol usage statistics and distilled Australia’s drinking culture to a bubbly read. 

Cheers, this one’s on us!

10 Interesting Alcohol Usage Facts About Australia

  • Two-thirds of adult Australians drink alcohol monthly, 80% drink in a year
  • The alcohol industry exceeds $37 billion in revenue, growing by 5.2% yearly
  • The average age at which young Aussies first try alcohol is 16.2 years
  • Young adults increasingly abstain from alcohol – but drink more of it when they do
  • Men tend to favour beer, while women prefer wine
  • There are 7,190 registered alcohol stores in Oz
  • 6 million Australians purchased packaged alcohol weekly in 2020
  • Aussies spent $2 billion extra on household alcohol during the pandemic
  • Alcohol sales rose by over 25% in 2020
  • Alcohol consumption accounts for 4.5% of the continent’s overall disease burden 

Alcohol Usage in Australia Statistics

1. How many Australians drink alcohol?

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (Roy Morgan)

The 2020 statistics of alcohol use in Australia show that four in five drаnk during the past year, while two out of three adult Aussies drink alcohol monthly. One in six drank over the limit suggested by the Australian alcohol consumption guidelines.

2. How often do Australians drink alcohol?

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (Statista) 

Recent alcohol usage stats show that a third of all Aussies drink alcohol once a month or less and another third drink once a week or less. In 2019, over half of those over 15 drank alcohol weekly, whereas 6.9% of men and 3.9% of women, about 5% of the population, drank every day. 

The percentage of frequent drinkers in Australia rises with age, as one in eight (12.6%) of those over 70 drink daily and only 1.2% of twenty-year-olds, 2019 data show.

3. The absolute number of drinkers is declining.

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 

The number of those quitting alcohol has been steadily rising, as indicated by alcohol consumption in Australia statistics. The percentage of ex-drinkers rose from 7.6% to 8.9% between 2016 and 2019, when it was at its lowest since 2001.

4. The average age at which a person first tries alcohol is now over 16.

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

According to teenage drinking statistics in Australia, the average age at which young people first try alcohol has been steadily rising over the last two decades. In 2001, the average age was 14.7 years, rising to 16.2 in 2019.

5. Beer is among the most popular alcoholic drinks in Australia with 74.6 million litres of pure alcohol in beer on the market.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Thе 2018 figure shows a 2.5% year on year rise, compared to 72.8 million litres of pure alcohol from beer in 2017. All in all, 1.7 billion litres of beer were available in 2018, a 6% increase in volume from the year before. The average adult Aussie drank 87.6 litres of beer that year, three-quarters of which was full-strength beer. 

6. Wine consumption in Australia is also very popular, with 73.9 million litres of pure alcohol in wine on the market. 

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

In 2018, 568 million litres of wine were available for consumption, the largest volume of wine ever recorded in Australia. This amounts to 28.3 litres or 38 bottles of wine (750ml) per person per year.

7. There were 191 million litres of pure alcohol on the market in 2018.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

A total of 191.2 million litres of pure alcohol were available for consumption in Australia in 2018, an increase of 2.4% from the previous year, Australian alcohol statistics state. On average, every Australian consumed 9.51 litres of pure alcohol that year, even as pure alcohol intake per person has been dropping by 1.1% per year over the last decade.

Alcohol Usage Demographics in Australia

8.  Four in five Aussies aged 24-65 drink alcohol in a given year.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

Alcohol usage statistics from 2017-18 reveal that 71.6% of people over the age of 60 drink, as well as 67.9% of those aged 15 to 24. Predictably, men (81.8%) were more likely to be drinkers than women (71.4%). 

Alcoholic beverages in Australia are also popular among the foreign-born population: 80.6% of them will have a drink in a given 12-month period, compared to 68.1% of Australian-born citizens. Nevertheless, the percentage of drinkers in any population has decreased about 4% over the past decade.

9. Тhe proportion of adult men and women who drink alcoholic beverages in Australia remains constant.

(Statista) (Statista)

Over the last decade, the percentage of Australian men who consume alcohol has remained in the low 80%, while the proportion of women has been holding steady in the high 70% range. When asked, 63% of men and 70% of women said they are comfortable with the amount of alcohol they consume. 

10. Young adults increasingly abstain from alcohol, but drink more when they do.

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

Over the past two decades, the percentage of young adults (18-24) who have decided to abstain from drinking has grown from 13% to 21%. But they are also more likely to drink greater quantities in one sitting, over the 4 servings recommended by the consumption guidelines. Two out of five (41%) of young adults drink over the guideline limit at least once a month, compared to about a quarter of the general population who do the same.

11. The total number of non-drinkers nearly doubled between 2001-2019.

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

Тhe percentage of teens aged 14-17 who don’t drink rose from 39% to 73% between 2007-2019. The percentage of abstaining young adults aged 18-24 also increased from 13% to 21%. Since 2001, the overall number of Aussies who abstain from drinking has nearly doubled, rising from 2.6 million at the beginning of the century to 5 million in 2019.

12. Мen tend to favour beer, women prefer wine.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

The 2017-18 data show that 40% of Australian men drank beer compared to only 8% of women. Wine, on the other hand, was favoured by a third of women (31%) and a fifth (22%) of the male population. Spirits were the least common alcoholic drink in Australia, but were consumed in similar proportions by both sexes – about 18% of men and 14% of women drank hard liquor in a given period. 

Alcohol-Related Harm and Problem Statistics in Australia

13. Alcohol consumption accounts for 4.5% of the overall disease burden in Australia.

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

In addition, alcohol was the leading cause (11.9%) of mortality among men aged 25 to 44. To paint a fuller picture, alcohol was the primary cause of 40% of the healthcare system burden resulting from liver cancer, 28% of the burden from chronic liver disease, 22% of the burden from traffic injuries, and 14% of the suicide burden to healthcare across the continent.

14. Alcohol abuse in Australia led to 5.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017.

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

In 2017, there were 1,366 alcohol-related fatalities in Australia, the highest figure in two decades. Note that men suffered 3.5 times more deaths than women. The alcohol-related deaths in Australia statistics also include 2,820 deaths where alcohol was a contributing factor.  Mental and behavioural diseases caused by alcohol usage accounted for 20% of alcohol-related deaths in Australia.

15. Drink driving is the leading cause of traffic accidents on the continent.

(Breathalysers Australia)

As many as 635 Australians lost their lives due to drunk driving in the first six months of 2019 alone. Drivers with a blood alcohol content above the permissible limit of 0.05% were responsible for 30% of all fatal road accidents in Australia. Current data show that 90% of the drivers at fault were male.

16. One in five is verbally or physically abused by someone under the influence.

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

A sobering fact: as many as 4.5 million Australians suffered verbal or physical harm or were put in fear by a drunk person in 2019. The AIHW report indicates that 5.6% of men and 4.0% of women experience physical abuse resulting from alcohol consumption. Females were more likely to be abused by a partner or ex-partner, whereas males were mostly harmed by someone unfamiliar, according to their police reports.

The good news is that alcohol-fueled violence in Australia has been declining since 2016, as approximately 200,000 fewer men and women suffered physical abuse from someone under the influence in 2019.

17. Men are twice as likely to engage in excessive drinking and suffer from alcohol use disorder.

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

Аbout 10% of Australians who drink are likely to score high on the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) for alcohol dependence, according to data from 2019. In terms of demographics, the male population (13.5%) is twice as likely as the female population (6.3%) to be categorised as high risk. Significantly, three out of four individuals at high risk for alcoholism in Australia have never asked for any help or participated in any treatment for their problem.

Revenue of the Alcohol Industry in Australia

18. In 2020, alcohol sales in Australia increased by over 25%.

(Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) (The New Daily)

Retail data from 2020 indicate that alcohol sales in Australia grew by $3.3 billion (26.7%) year on year to reach $15.6 billion. For context, alcohol revenues increased by $195 million between 2018 and 2019.

19.  In 2020, about 6 million Aussies bought packaged alcohol in an average week.

(Roy Morgan)

It’s fascinating to see how quickly online alcohol sales in Australia grew in 2020. In the previous year, 94.4% of Australians purchased liquor in-store while only 3.5% bought their alcoholic beverages online. But in 2020, three times as many Aussies (11.3%) purchased alcohol online.

20. There were 7,190 alcohol stores registered in Australia as of March 2021.

(Maven Marketing) (Wine Australia)

The popular bottle shops accounted for the majority of the alcohol stores in Australia with 3,574 establishments, while 1,246 additional stores were owned by wine and spirit merchants and dealers. Broadening the scope of this report for a moment, Australia also has 2,361 wineries and 6,251 registered grape growers, for a total of 163,790 workers employed by the wine industry as of the beginning of 2021. 

21. Both import and export of alcohol saw a decrease in 2020. 

(Statista) (TrendEconomy)

In 2020, Australia’s alcohol-related exports totalled $87 million. The sum represents a significant decrease from two years earlier when export sales were worth around $290 million. Australian alcoholic beverages were mostly exported to New Zealand, but the country also supplied alcohol to the United States, China, Singapore, and Korea. 

In terms of imports, alcohol worth $620 million entered the country in 2020, as import sales fell 6.7% year on year. The United Kingdom and the United States accounted for the majority of Australia’s imported alcohol, but France, Ireland, Mexico, and China also made their contributions.

Alcohol Market Statistics in Australia

22. The alcohol industry revenue in 2021 topped $35 billion.

(Roy Morgan) (Statista)

The industry around alcoholic beverages registered incomes of $35.38 billion in the course of 2021 and is projected to continue to grow by 7% by 2025. Seeing as this is Oz, almost $16 billion of those are attributed to the beer sector.

Supermarket retailers continue to dominate the packaged alcohol market in Australia, selling to 5.3 million Australians monthly. A growing sales avenue are wine clubs, where the typical customer spends about $160 weekly, three times what they would in a supermarket.

23. Beer remains the dominant market segment.

(Statista) (Statista) (Statista)

Australian alcohol statistics show that beer sector revenues reached $15.9 billion in 2021, as per capita yearly consumption topped 55 litres. The wine market ranked second with $14.6 billion in revenue reported, as the average Aussie consumed 23.5 litres of wine during the calendar year.

24. In 2020, more Aussies drank wine and spirits at the expense of beer.

(Roy Morgan)

Recent alcohol industry in Australia statistics indicate that the number of wine consumers over 18 is growing. Nearly 9 million Aussies (41%) drank wine on a monthly basis in 2020, an increase of 3.3% from 2019. A rise of 3.7% was seen in the consumption of spirits, imbibed by 6.2 million adults.

Incredibly, the absolute number of adult beer drinkers shrank from 7.3 million (37.4%) to about 6.8 million (34.6%) in the same period.

25. The best alcohol brands in Oz offer a wide spectrum of products. 

(Better Homes and Gardens) (Man of Many) (New Idea Food)

Singling out Aussie brands for praise has never been more difficult, as both the quality and the range of alcoholic products currently on the market is outstanding. Anyone looking for the taste of the land down under should not leave out the Carlton and Cascade Draughts, the Coopers Brewery Original Pale Ale and their Sparkling Ale, Little Creatures Pale Ale, Tooheys Fresh, and Victoria Bitter, to name just a few.

But now – gasp! – Aussies are making more than just good beer. The Hippocampus and Old Young’s distilleries produce some of the most popular gin and vodka beverages on the continent. Other vodka drinks, especially 666 Vodka and Vodka O, are also popular. Archie Rose is a well-known distillery that produces signature dry gin, vodka, and white rye, while Bundaberg rum is among Australia’s best-known rum brands. 

Another recommendation is Mr Black Coffee Liqueur, an award-winning and heart-warming drop of Aussie spirit.

Alcohol Usage Trends and the Covid-19 Effect

26. Aussies spent $2 billion more than usual on alcohol during the 2020 lockdowns.

(National Alcohol and Drug Knowledgebase) (Nationwide News)

In 2020, Australian households spent an average of $1,890 on alcoholic drinks, an increase of nearly 15% compared to 2019. One in five households reported purchasing more alcohol during the lockdowns.

27. A majority of the population reported drinking more during the pandemic.

(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

A FARE poll conducted in April 2020 found that 70% of adult Australians consumed more alcohol during the lockdowns, while 34% drank on a daily basis. A third of respondents indicated they were worried about the amount of alcohol they or a member of their family used.

During the pandemic, women became more likely to drink. In a different April 2020 survey, 18% of women reported an increase in their alcohol consumption, compared to 10.8% of men. Staying at home was the most common cause of drinking more for both men (67%) and women (64%), alongside boredom (for 50% of males) and increased levels of stress (for 42% of women), as reported in a May 2020 poll.

Alcohol Usage Statistics: Australia vs USA and UK 

28. Aussies drink more than Yanks but less than Brits.

(Our World in Data)

Australian drinking culture statistics are perennially compared and contrasted with those of other traditionally Anglo-Saxon countries with similar drinking cultures, such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Based on the latest available data on global alcohol consumption, Australia consumed 10.5 litres of pure alcohol for every person over the age of 15, which ranks the country above the USA but below the UK in terms of per capita alcohol consumption. The merry Brits consumed 11.4 litres, while Americans chugged 9.8 litres of pure alcohol per capita in 2016.

Bottom line

Overall, Aussies seem to be gradually reining in their alcohol appetites, especially across the younger demographics. Our alcohol usage statistics suggest Australia’s drinking habits did change somewhat during the Covid-19 pandemic and alcohol consumption intensified as people were subjected to extended lockdowns and uncertainty. The authorities must continue to invest in programs aimed at managing alcohol misuse and reducing alcohol-related harm and crime.

Sources:

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Australian Communications and Media Authority

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Better Homes and Gardens

Breathalysers Australia

Drinks Trade

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education

Man of Many

Maven Marketing

National Alcohol and Drug Knowledgebase

Nationwide News

New Idea Food

Our World in Data

Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan

Statista

Statista

Statista

Statista

Statista

Statista

Statista

The New Daily

TrendEconomy

Wine Australia

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