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Alcohol Available for Consumption: Year ended December 2016
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  24 February 2017
Commentary

Total volume up 4.2 percent

The total volume of alcoholic beverages available for consumption in the year ended December 2016 rose 4.2 percent from 2015, to 474 million litres. This follows falls of 0.4 percent in 2015 and 2.0 percent in 2014.

The rise in 2016 was led by an increase in the volume of beer available, up 10.4 million litres (3.7 percent). The volume of wine available also rose, up 4.9 million litres (4.7 percent). The total volume of spirits and spirit-based drinks available was up 3.9 million litres (5.7 percent).

Graph, Total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption, by type, year ended December, 2001 to 2016.

In 2016, alcohol available for consumption rose in all quarters when compared with the same quarter in 2015. The largest percentage rises were in the September and June quarters, up 5.4 and 5.3 percent, respectively.

Beer volume up 3.7 percent

The total volume of beer available for consumption rose 3.7 percent in 2016, to reach 292 million litres. The rise followed little change in the total volume in 2015, and a 2.3 percent fall in 2014.

Graph, Volume of beer available for consumption, by beer strength, year ended December, 2001 to 2016.

Beer categories with lower alcoholic content showed little change from 2015; there were rises in categories with higher alcoholic content:

  • up to 2.5 percent alcohol – fell 3.5 percent, to 9.2 million litres
  • between 2.5 and 4.35 percent – unchanged, at 135 million litres
  • between 4.35 and 5 percent – rose 6.4 percent, to 126 million litres
  • above 5 percent – rose 17 percent, to 21.9 million litres. 

The movements in 2016, particularly for the lower alcohol categories, contrast with recent annual movements. The fall for the lowest alcohol content beer in 2016 followed three years of rises above 40 percent.

In 2015, beer with an alcohol content between 2.5 and 4.35 percent fell 6.5 percent, and in 2014 by 7.4 percent.

The 17 percent rise in beer above 5 percent alcohol in 2016 followed a 38 percent rise in 2015.

Of the total volume of beer available for consumption in 2016, 86 percent was produced in New Zealand and 14 percent was imported.

Of the total volume of beer produced in New Zealand in 2016, 91 percent was available for consumption in New Zealand and 9 percent was exported.

As a proportion of the total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption, beer has fallen from 74 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2016. The proportion has changed little in the last five years.

Wine volume up 4.7 percent

The total volume of wine available for consumption in 2016 rose 4.7 percent (4.9 million litres) from 2015, to 109 million litres. This followed a 3.3 percent fall in 2015.

Of the main categories of wine:

  • table wine made from grapes rose 5.2 percent, to 94 million litres
  • table wine made from other fruit and vegetables, or flavoured with other aromatic substances, rose 2.4 percent, to 15 million litres
  • total table wine (all wine with an alcoholic content up to 14 percent) rose 4.8 percent, to 108 million litres
  • fortified wine (wine with an alcoholic content greater than 14 percent) fell 1.8 percent, to 552,000 litres.

In 2016, locally produced cider was estimated to be 83 percent (by volume) of all the beverages in the 'table wine made from other fruits and vegetables' category. 

From 2010 to 2016, the volume in this category increased by 7.6 million litres. The increase in locally produced cider over the same period was estimated to be 8.2 million litres.

Graph, Volume of table wine available for consumption, by wine type, year ended December, 2001 to 2016.  

The rise in the volume of 'table wine made from grapes' available for consumption in New Zealand coincided with an increase in the quantity and value exported in 2016.

In 2016, the volume of table wine made from grapes exported was over twice the volume of available for consumption in New Zealand (ie the total of imported wine and local production not exported).

Of the total volume of table wine made from grapes available for consumption in 2016, 79 percent was locally produced, and 21 percent was imported. Of the total volume produced in New Zealand, 26 percent was available for consumption in New Zealand, and 74 percent was exported.

As a proportion of the total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption, wine increased from 17 percent in 2001, to 23 percent in 2016. The proportion has changed little in the last four years.

Spirits and spirit-based drinks up 5.7 percent

The total volume of spirits and spirit-based drinks available for consumption in 2016 was up 5.7 percent (3.9 million litres) from 2015, to 73 million litres, following a 3.0 percent rise in 2015. In 2014 and 2013, the total volume fell 6.3 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively.

The changes by volume of the two categories were:

  • spirit-based drinks (up to 23 percent alcohol) rose 5.3 percent (3.0 million litres), to 59 million litres
  • spirits (more than 23 percent alcohol) rose 7.7 percent (1.0 million litres), to 13 million litres.

As a proportion of the total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption, spirits and spirit-based drinks rose from 9.1 percent in 2001 to 15 percent in 2016. The proportion has been little changed in the last four years.

Graph, Volume of spirits and spirit-based drinks available for consumption, year ended December, 2001 to 2016.  

Volume of pure alcohol available up 5.1 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 2016 rose 5.1 percent, to 34 million litres. This is up 1.6 million litres from 2015.

The volume of pure alcohol available from:

  • beer – rose 4.2 percent, to 13 million litres
  • wine – rose 4.7 percent, to 11 million litres
  • spirits (including spirit-based drinks) – rose 6.7 percent, to 9.7 million litres
  • spirits (more than 23 percent alcohol) – rose 7.7 percent, to 5.6 million litres 
  • spirit-based drinks (up to 23 percent alcohol) – rose 5.4 percent, to 4.2 million litres.

The proportions of pure alcohol available for consumption have changed over time. Between 2001 and 2016, the proportion available from:

  • beer – decreased from 48 percent to 37 percent
  • wine – increased from 30 percent to 34 percent
  • spirits (including spirit-based drinks) – increased from 22 percent to 29 percent.

Graph, Beverage type as proportion of total pure alcohol available, year ended December, 2001 to 2016.

Standard drinks per person rises in 2016

In 2016, the average number of standard drinks available per person was:

  • 2.0 standard drinks (per person aged 18+) a day, up 2.5 percent from 2015
  • 1.9 standard drinks (per person aged 15+) a day, up 2.6 percent from 2015.

The 2016 figures are calculated from the litres of pure alcohol available per person:

  • 9.4 litres (per person aged 18+), up 2.5 percent from 2015, and following a 4.1 percent fall in 2015
  • 8.9 litres (per person aged 15+), up 2.6 percent from 2015, and following a 4.1 percent fall in 2015. 

Although the volume of alcohol available per person aged 18+ (measured by the number of litres or the number of standard drinks) rose in 2016, it is the third-lowest in the last 16 years – after 2015 and 2001. 

Graph, Number of standard drinks available for consumption, per person 18 years and over, year ended December, 2001 to 2016.

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

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