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Don’t knock the box: Australia’s cask wine drinkers

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014 – March 2015 (n=8,341).

While the proportion of Australian adults drinking wine has been in decline for some years, there’s no denying our nation’s illustrious wine-making tradition. One example that springs to mind is that icon of alcoholic ingenuity, the wine cask — a uniquely Aussie invention which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary earlier this year. But do people still drink wine from casks, or is ‘goon’ going-going-gone?

The latest findings from Roy Morgan Research indicate that 45% of Aussie adults (or just over 8.1 million people) drink some kind of wine — still, sparkling and/or fortified — in an average four weeks, down from 50% in 2007. Of these, 16% (almost 1.3 million people) consume cask wine, a substantial decline from the 30% (2.3 million) who drank it back in 2007.

Considering that a South Australian invented the wine cask, it seems fitting that wine drinkers from SA are more likely than those from other states to enjoy their vino from a box: 18% drink cask wine in an average four weeks, just ahead of Queensland (a smidgen under 18%), Tasmania (17%) and Western Australia (17%).

Whereas the ratio between male and female drinkers is quite even for bottled wine, a noticeably higher proportion of men (18%) drink cask wine than women (14%).

Australia’s cask-wine drinkers by state of residence and gender


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014 – March 2015 (n=8,341).

Cask vs bottled wine

So what distinguishes a cask-wine drinker from the vast bottled-wine quaffing majority?

For starters, cask wine is especially popular among older Australians. People aged 65+ are almost 60% more likely to go for goon than the average wine drinker. At the opposite end of the age spectrum, 18-24 year-olds are also more likely to drink it (in striking contrast to 25-34 year-olds, among whom cask-wine drinking is well below average).

Of course, the affordability of cask wine would boost its appeal to both groups: while many in the younger group are still studying or in the early stages of their careers (with salaries to match), the 65+ bracket includes many retirees living on pensions.

In fact, affordability appears to be one of cask wine’s biggest selling points. For example, 26% of wine-drinkers from the cash-strapped FG socio-economic quintile and 24% of those from the budget-bound E quintile opt for cask wine, compared with just 8% of people from the most affluent AB quintile. 

Andrew Price, General Manager – Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Since South Australian winemaker Thomas Angove invented cask wine packaging in 1965, the ‘plastic bladder in a cardboard box’ has become a worldwide phenomenon. However, it seems cask wine’s glory days could be over, as there has been a substantial decline in the number of Aussies drinking it over the last few years.

“Whether this downward trend is simply a symptom of the more widespread decrease in wine-drinking in Australia, or the result of competition from a myriad of cheap bottled wines now available, is hard to know.

“What is certain, however, is that winemakers who produce a cask range need to have a detailed knowledge of the demographics, attitudes and habits of their target market so they can tailor their communications accordingly and expand their customer base as a result.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%