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Australians drinking less alcohol, ABS figures show

Just under 40 per cent of what we drank this year was beer. Picture: iStock. courtesy: Herald Sun

Australians hopping away from beer has resulted in the least amount of alcohol being downed in half a century.

Official new data shows 186 million litres of alcohol were consumed in the 2016-17 ­financial year — the lowest figure since 1961-62.

The average Australian is now drinking 9.4 litres of alcohol a year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

More than three-quarters of the alcohol was either beer (39 per cent) or wine (38 per cent), while spirits accounted for 13 per cent, pre-mix drinks 6 per cent and cider 3 per cent.

Aussies foregoing their frothies were responsible for the overall decline, with a 3.4 per cent decrease in beer compared to the previous year.

Beer has gone from accounting for 75 per cent of all booze drunk in Australia in 1966-67 to less than 40 per cent now. The share of alcohol from wine has grown from 14 per cent to 38 per cent over the 50-year period.

ABS director of health statistics Louise Gates said the figures continued the downward trend in alcohol consumption that started about 2008.

But Ms Gates warned many Australians were still drinking a lot of alcohol.

“Using the average ­consumption levels for each category, the 9.4 litres of pure alcohol can be expressed as the average Australian aged 15 and over consuming the equivalent of 224 stubbies (375ml) of beer, 38 bottles (750ml) of wine, 17 bottles (375ml) of cider, four bottles (700ml) of spirits and 33 cans (375ml) of pre-mixed ready-to-drink varieties,” she said.

“If you keep in mind that about one in five Australians drink very rarely or not at all, that’s quite a lot for the rest of us, notwithstanding the am­ounts discarded or used for nondrinking purposes.

“If 224 stubbies sound like a lot, contrast that with 1974-75 when Australia reached ‘peak beer’ and the consumption was equivalent to over 500 stubbies a person.”

She confirmed the drop in beer was the main driver in the overall drop with an average decline of 2.4 per cent a year over the past decade.