Alcohol availablity at lowest level for 18 years

Latest Statistics New Zealand figures indicate Kiwis drank the lowest amount of pure alcohol in 18 years.
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Latest Statistics New Zealand figures indicate Kiwis drank the lowest amount of pure alcohol in 18 years.

Kiwis are drinking less beer and wine, and when they do partake they're more likely to choose lower alcohol options like cider or low alcohol beer. 

That's the finding from the latest Alcohol Available for Consumption figures released by Statistics New Zealand on Friday.

Based on the volume of alcoholic beverages available for sale in New Zealand, the figures give a good snapshot of how much alcohol we are drinking each year.

This report shows Kiwis drank less pure alcohol in 2015 than in the previous 18 years.

The total volume of pure alcohol available in 2015, based on all the beverages released to the market, was the equivalent of two standard drinks a day, down from 2.1 in 2014.

"This is the equivalent of 500ml of 5 per cent alcohol beer, or two glasses of wine per person per day," international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said.

The total volume of pure alcohol available for consumption fell 2.2 per cent, despite only a minor decrease in the volume of alcoholic beverages available (down 0.4 per cent).

According to the numbers, there was less pure alcohol available from beer and wine in 2015, with volumes falling0.3 and 5.9 per cent on 2014 respectively.

Consumption of lower alcohol wine, a category which included cider, grew by 4.5 per cent and the volume of beer with less than 2.5 per cent alcohol increased by a whopping 71 per cent.

New Zealand Wine chief executive Philip Gregan said results were in line with a longer term trend of a general reduction in alcohol consumption. 

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"People are concerned about what they eat and drink, they want to enjoy a nice glass of wine so they drink a little bit less but buy higher quality products."

Although there was less wine available (down 3.3 per cent), this was offset by a rise in total spirits and spirit-based drinks (up 3 per cent).

The total volume of beer available for consumption was steady, down just 0.1 per cent.

National Addictions Centre director Doug Sellman said the changes, while slightly in the right direction,  were trivial and potentially misleading.

"The total volume of pure alcohol available for consumption in New Zealand has been over 30 million litres for the last ten years and in fact is higher now than it was ten years ago."

Sellman said 20 per cent of the population drink more than 50 per cent of the alcohol while 15 per cent don't drink at all. 
"It is quite possible that people drinking low amounts of alcohol are beginning to drink even less, while the heavy drinkers, the alcohol industry's favourite customers...are drinking at even higher and dangerous levels."

 

 - Stuff

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