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Decline in proportion of Australians drinking alcohol

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2012 - September 2013, n = 21,031; October 2017 - September 2018, n = 15,904.
Base: Australians 18+
In an average four week period, 67.9% of the Australian population 18 and over consume at least one type of alcoholic drink. This represents a gradual decline over the last five years from 70.1% recorded in 2013. All major categories of alcoholic drinks showed declines in incidence over this period, apart from cider which increased.

These are some of the latest findings from Roy Morgan’s ‘Alcohol Consumption Currency Report September 2018’ which is based on in-depth interviews conducted face-to-face with over 50,000 consumers per annum in their homes, including detailed questioning of over 15,000 regarding their alcoholic drinking habits.

Wine the most popular alcoholic drink

Wine is consumed by 43.3% of the 18+ Australian population over an average four week period, ahead of beer with 38.4% and spirits on 26.7%. Cider is now consumed by 12.3% which has increased from 10.3% five years ago, making it the only type to increase. The incidence of cider drinkers is now ahead of RTD (11.4%), Liqueurs (7.2%) and Fortified Wine (5.2%).

Over the last five years the biggest decline was for wine (down 1.3% points), followed by RTD (down 0.9% points) and Liqueurs (down 0.8% points). Beer only showed a decline of 0.5% points and as a result closed the gap marginally to wine.

Alcohol Consumption Incidence in Last Four Weeks

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2012 - September 2013, n = 21,031; October 2017 - September 2018, n = 15,904.
Base: Australians 18+

Big differences between men and women alcoholic drink preferences

Over a four week period 73.3% of men consume alcoholic drinks, well ahead of women with 62.7%. The drink preferences are very different between the sexes , particularly when it comes to beer, which is drunk by 57.7% of men and only 19.8% of women. The preferred drink for women is wine with 47.9%, well ahead of men on 38.6%. The only other category were women have a stronger preference than men is cider with 12.9%, higher than the 11.5% for men.

Alcohol Consumption Incidence in Last Four Weeks – Men v Women

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2017 - September 2018, n = 15,904.
Base: Australians 18+

Beer has the greatest volume

Although wine is the most popular alcoholic drink in terms of the number of drinkers, beer is clearly the top in terms of volume (based on glasses). The following chart shows that beer accounts for 45.2% of the volume of alcoholic drinks consumed, well ahead of wine (28.3%) and spirits (13.4%).

Since 2013 gains in share of volume were seen for wine (up 2.3% points), cider (up 1.0% points) and spirits (up 0.4% points). Losses in share were greatest for beer (down 2.9% points) and RTDs (down 1.0% points).

Alcohol Share of Volume Consumed

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2017 - September 2018, n = 15,904.
Base: Australian Alcohol Consumers 18+

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan, commented:

"There is a gradual social change in Australia over the last five years in terms of a declining incidence of alcohol consumption. This is evident by the fact that five years ago 70.1% of Australians 18 and over consumed an alcoholic drink over an average four week period; this has now declined to 67.9% currently. The potential reasons for this decline are likely to be as a result of switching to healthier options, cost, social issues involved such as drink driving and alternative drug taking.

“With the overall decline in Australians consuming alcoholic drinks has also come changes in the types of drinks they consume. Although beer retains its top position for market share (45.2%)in terms of volume consumed, over the last five years this has declined by 2.9% points, with gains largely going to wine, up 2.3% points  and cider up 1.0% points.

“The retailing of alcohol has also undergone significant change over the last five years with supermarkets (including all the outlets they own), now accounting for 75% of market turnover, an increase from 73.3% 12 months ago. The Woolworths Group (including Dan Murphy’s and BWS) are the clear market leaders having increased their market share over the last year from 49.0% up to 52.1%.

“The data used in this release covers only a small part of what is available in the full database and in the ‘Alcohol Consumption Currency Report’ and the ‘Alcohol Retail Currency Report’. To find out more ask Roy Morgan.”

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309

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%