June 27, 2005

Australians drink less beer, more wine and spirits

CANBERRA (Reuters) - The image of Australia as a nation ofbeer drinkers is under attack, with new figures on Mondayshowing Australians are drinking less beer and more wine andspirits.

The shift is a result of an increase in the amount of wineavailable in Australia and a continued increase in the amountof pre-mixed spirit drinks available, according to theAustralian Bureau of Statistics.

Australians drank 109.9 liters of beer per person aged 15or more in 2004, down from 114.6 litters in 2003. Altogether,1,760 million liters was available to drink in the year to June30, 2004, down 2.6 percent from 1,807 million liters a yearearlier.

Wine consumption per person rose 2.6 percent over the sameperiod to 27.5 liters from 26.8 liters a year earlier. theAmount of wine available to drink increased 3.9 percent to439.7 million liters in 2004 from 423.1 million liters a yearearlier.

Spirits consumption rose marginally to 2.05 liters perperson over 15. But the figures showed a massive increase inthe amount of available pre-mixed spirit drinks to 13.87million liters in 2004 from 1.59 million liters three yearsearlier.

Alcohol consumption analyst Sandra Jones from WollongongUniversity said beer was under threat on two fronts, with olderAustralians now drinking more wine and younger Australiansturning away from beer in favor of pre-mixed spirit drinks.

"The ready-to-drinks are going up, but the spirits are notgoing down by the same amount. The rise is being traded offagainst beer," Jones told Reuters.

According to the Web Site of Foster's (www.fosters.com.au),the country's biggest brewer, Australians drink less beer percapita than Czechs, Germans, the Irish, Danes, Austrians,British, Belgians and Luxembourg, but more than Americans NewZealanders, Finns, Hungarians, Spaniards, Canadians, the Dutchand Slovacs.