Australian Beer Consumption Hits Rock Bottom

Those living Down Under have a long history of enjoying great beer and brewing up some top offerings in the industry as well. However, it seems that Australians are changing the way that they view beer – beer sales hit their lowest point in more than 6 decades in 2010.  In fact, they plunged to their lowest point since before the 1950s. What’s the trend here and why are the Aussies losing their taste for beer? Actually, there are a lot of other changes going on Down Under.

First, beer consumption dropped to only 4.56 liters per person in 2010. That’s down from 4.62 liters in the previous year, but is incredibly low when compared to the decade overall. In fact, consumption numbers haven’t been that low since 1948. Of course, it seems that the Aussies are making up for their lack of beer drinking by switching over to wine, but the increase there doesn’t quite match the decrease in general alcohol consumption. The recent changes and turmoil with the Fosters brand is just another sign of these changing trends it seems.

Australia is changing in quite a few other ways too. It seems that the nation is undergoing a reversal in the ratio of people visiting to people leaving for international trips. An increase of almost 20% for short-term departures (Australians taking trips out of the country) might be an indication that beer tastes haven’t so much shifted as Australians are now spending so much time abroad that their beer-buying is taking place in other geographic areas.

This all corresponds with a general rise in the value of the Australian dollar, as well, which rose to a 3-decade high. However, that might not be a sign of real economic health, as the Australian automotive segment noted that sales of automobiles dropped by as much as 10%. Sales have been on a downturn for several months, but the recent Japanese tsunami has certainly also played a role here. 

The outcome of these ongoing trends will be interesting to see, particularly how well the Australian beer industry copes with the new changes and how brewers adapt to and overcome the seeming shift in consumer tastes. It’s certainly possible that many of these changes result directly from the increased travel abroad by Australian citizens, but only time will tell if that is really the case or if there’s something more permanent at work here.