Cider our new crush

NEW data has revealed that alcohol consumption in Australia is at its lowest in 15 years, but cider has defied the trend.

Tasmanian Hospitality Association general manager Steve Old said this was good news for Tasmania, which was renowned for its cider.

He said that cider was one of the fastest-growing areas in the industry.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed that cider was the only category to increase in the volume of pure alcohol available, each year between 2007-08 and 2012-13.

The Apparent Consumption of Alcohol data, released on Friday, also reveals a continuing downward trend in beer consumption, while wine consumption has plateaued.

The statistics estimate apparent alcohol consumption based on the availability of alcoholic beverages in Australia.

However, beer still represents the biggest proportion of all pure alcohol consumed in 2012-13, at 41 per cent; followed by wine, 37 per cent; spirits, 13 per cent, and ready-to-drink beverages, 7 per cent.

The data estimates that cider accounted for a small but growing proportion consumed, at 2 per cent.

Mr Old said he was unsurprised that Australians were drinking less, because his discussions with major breweries and licensees had suggested a decline.

He said governments had also aimed to reduce alcohol advertising and this was starting to have an impact.

``There is always the safe consumption message, but we also have to try and make sure from the breweries and industry point of view, that we remain profitable,'' Mr Old said.

He said there was a lot more competition in the wine and beer sectors, with companies competing for fewer consumers across a greater market.

The rise of microbreweries, and the loss of brand loyalty and shuffling ownership among the major players, also added to the healthy competition, Mr Old said.

ABS health director Louise Gates said across all alcoholic beverages, there were 9.9 litres of pure alcohol available for consumption in 2012-13 for every person in Australia aged 15 years and over.

``This is the lowest level since the mid-1990s,'' she said.

``In terms of pure alcohol, consumption of beer has more than halved since the peak in the mid-1970s, and is now at the lowest level since 1945-46.''

Email: ctang@examiner.com.au

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