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Alcohol Available for Consumption: Year ended December 2015
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  26 February 2016
Commentary

Total volume of alcoholic beverages shows little change

The total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption in the year ended December 2015 showed little change from 2014, down 0.4 percent (1.9 million litres) to 455 million litres. This follows a 2.0 percent decrease for 2014 year and a 1.9 percent increase for 2013.

The decrease was due to a fall in the volume of wine available, down 3.6 million litres (3.3 percent). This was partly offset by an increase in the volume of spirit-based drinks available, up 2.4 million litres (4.5 percent).

Graph, Total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption, by type, 2000–15.

In 2015, alcohol available in the December quarter fell 3.2 percent compared with the same quarter in the previous year. The June quarter also fell, while the March and September quarters rose.

Beer volume shows little change

The total volume of beer available for consumption showed little change, down 0.1 percent, to 282 million litres.

Graph, Volume of beer available for consumption, by beer strength, 2000–15.

Although the total beer volume showed little change, large movements occurred in the alcoholic content categories:

  • up to 2.5 percent alcohol – rose 71 percent, to 9.6 million
  • between 2.5 and 4.35 percent – fell 6.5 percent, to 135 million litres
  • between 4.35 and 5 percent – unchanged, at 119 million litres
  • above 5 percent – rose 38 percent, to 18.7 million litres.

As a proportion of the total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption, beer fell from 74 percent in 2000 to 62 percent in 2015. Only a small change occurred from 2014 to 2015.

Wine volume down 3.3 percent

The total volume of wine available for consumption in 2015 fell 3.3 percent (3.6 million litres) from 2014, to 104 million litres. Of the main categories of wine:

  • table wine made from grapes fell 4.6 percent, to 89 million litres
  • table wine made from other fruit and vegetables, or flavoured with other aromatic substances, rose 4.5 percent, to 14 million litres (cider is estimated to be 90 percent by volume of all the beverages in this category)
  • total table wine (all wine with an alcoholic content up to 14 percent) fell 3.5 percent to 103 million litres
  • fortified wine (wine with an alcoholic content greater than 14 percent) rose 22 percent to 563,000 litres.

Graph, Volume of table wine available for consumption, by wine type, 2000–15.  

The fall in the volume of table wine made from grapes available for consumption in New Zealand coincided with an increase in the quantity and value of exported grape wine in 2015.

In the December 2015 quarter, the exported volume of table wine made from grapes was more than twice the volume of table wine available for consumption in New Zealand (the combined total of imported wine and local production that is not exported).

As a proportion of the total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption, wine increased from 17 percent in 2000, to 23 percent in 2015. Only a small change occurred from 2014 to 2015.

Volume of spirits and spirit-based drinks up 3.0 percent

The total volume of spirits and spirit-based drinks wine available for consumption in 2015 was 69 million litres, up 2.0 million litres (3.0 percent) from 2014. The changes by volume were:

  • spirit-based drinks (with up to 23 percent alcohol) rose 4.5 percent (2.4 million litres), to 56 million litres
  • spirits (with more than 23 percent alcohol) fell 3.7 percent (474,000 litres), to 12 million litres.

As a proportion of the total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption, spirits and spirit-based drinks rose from 8.3 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2015. This proportion in 2015 was unchanged from 2014.

Graph, Volume of spirits and spirit-based drinks available for consumption, 2000–15.  

Volume of pure alcohol available down 2.2 percent

Pure alcohol available for consumption is a measure of the total alcoholic content of the various alcoholic beverages.

The total volume of pure alcohol available for consumption in 2015 fell 2.2 percent, to 32 million litres. This is a decrease of 718,000 litres from 2014.

Of the main categories of alcoholic beverage, the volume of pure alcohol available from:

  • beer – fell 0.3 percent, to 12 million litres
  • wine – fell 5.9 percent, to 11 million litres
  • spirits (including spirit-based drinks) – was unchanged, at 9.1 million litres
Of the two main categories of spirits and spirit-based drinks:
  • spirits (with more than 23 percent alcohol) – fell 3.7 percent, to 5.2 million litres. 
  • spirit-based drinks (with up to 23 percent alcohol) – rose 5.3 percent, to 4.0 million litres

The proportions of pure alcohol available for consumption from the different alcoholic beverages have changed over time. Between 2000 and 2015, the proportion available from:

  • beer – decreased from 48 percent to 38 percent
  • wine – increased from 31 percent to 34 percent
  • spirits (including spirit-based drinks) – increased from 22 percent to 28 percent.

Graph, Beverage type as proportion of total pure alcohol available, 2000–15.

 Graph, Volume of pure alcohol available for consumption, per person aged 18 years and over, 1998–2015.

Standard drinks per person down 4.1 percent

In 2015, the number of litres of pure alcohol available per person was:

  • 9.2 litres per person (aged 18+), down 4.1 percent from 9.6 litres in 2014
  • 8.7 litres per person (aged 15+), down 4.1 percent from 9.1 litres in 2014

These figures are equivalent to an average of:  

  • 2.0 standard drinks per person (aged 18+) per day, down from 2.1 in 2014.
  • 1.9 standard drinks per person (aged 15+) per day, down from 2.0 in 2014

In 2015, the volume of alcohol available per person aged 18+ (measured by the number of litres or the number of standard drinks) is the lowest in the last 18 years. 

 For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the ‘Downloads’ box.

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