Life Wellbeing Don’t believe ‘dodgy polls’, Australia’s booze intake dropped during coronavirus lockdown

Don’t believe ‘dodgy polls’, Australia’s booze intake dropped during coronavirus lockdown

Iso, iso ... everything you've heard about Aussies' binge drinking might be wrong. Photo: Getty
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Beer-lieve it or not, Australians are drinking less alcohol in isolation, despite previous reports.

New research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that overall, Aussies are drinking less now than they have at any point in the last 50 years.

“This is the lowest level since the early 1960s,” the ABS’ Louise Gates said.

It seems that our beverage of choice is slowly starting to shift too.

“The pattern of alcohol consumption has changed significantly over this period,” Ms Gates said.

Fifty years ago, beer made up three quarters of all alcohol consumed, but now makes up under half at 41 per cent.

“Wine’s share has increased over the same period from 12 per cent to 38 per cent.”

Inaccurate headlines have forced Aussies to read between the wines. Photo: Getty 

This follows research from Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report which tells a similar tale.

The findings show that in March 2020, 66.3 per cent of Aussies aged 18+ consumed alcohol in a four-week period, a decline from the 67.5 per cent recorded 12 months earlier.

Mr Andrew Wilsmore, CEO of Alcohol Beverages Australia, said that lower consumption would wreak havoc on the hospitality industry.

“Beer, wine and spirit producers are reporting volume declines of between 10 and 35 per cent, which has clearly translated into Australians drinking less overall, and the sad reality of close to half a million jobs being lost in hospitality,” Mr Wilsmore said.

Mr Wilsmore went on to say that contrary to sensationalist headlines, Australians are not necessarily drinking excessively during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the headlines generated from a single-day of early panic buying, Australians have less occasions to drink.

“The majority of Australians have not replaced the beverage they previously enjoyed with a restaurant meal, the after-work drink, the late-night cocktail with increased at-home drinking occasions,” he said.

“No-one is saying there aren’t issues with alcohol. There are, and more needs to be done to tackle the array of social and cultural drivers leading some people to drink at excessive levels.

“But the over-hyped and, frankly, dodgy polls being bandied around simply do not stack up to scrutiny. They do Australians, who have clearly heeded the responsible consumption message, no favours in falsely vilifying them.

“Rather, Australians have earned a pat on the back.” Mr Wilsmore said.

Mr Wilsmore fired shots at “dodgy polls” claiming Aussies were drinking to excess. Photo: Getty

From Zero to hero

The ‘drop’ in excessive drinking won’t come as a shock to Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) who brew alcohol-free Carlton Zero.

CUB told Drinks Trade magazine that alcohol-free beer is rapidly growing in popularity.

“The no-alcohol beer category grew around 20 times in the first year after Carlton Zero’s launch, with about 75 cents of every dollar spent on no-alcohol beer spent on Zero.

“Our current projections have no-alcohol beer reaching 2 per cent of total beer sales by 2025.”