Which Country Spends the Most on Alcoholic Drinks?

Per capita consumer expenditure on alcoholic beverages (that is, spending on spirits, wine and beer) and the share of total consumer spending allocated to alcoholic drinks can inform businesses about consumers’ consumption habits, their attitude to health, government policies on alcohol consumption and alcohol advertising, as well as demographic trends of a consumer market. Euromonitor International forecasts that by 2021, Estonia will have overtaken Finland, Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand to become the world’s leader in per capita consumer expenditure on alcohol, a position it is expected to retain in 2030.

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Did You Know?

  • In 2013, Finland had the world’s highest level of per capita consumer expenditure on alcoholic drinks, at US$844. Other top five countries leading the world in terms of per capita consumer expenditure on alcoholic drinks in the same year were Switzerland (US$788.8), Norway (US$788.4), New Zealand (US$744.2) and Estonia (US$663.1);
  • Globally, Estonian consumers allocated the highest proportion of consumer expenditure to alcoholic drinks, at 6.5% in 2013, compared to the global average of 1.5%. Other countries with a high share of consumer expenditure devoted to alcoholic drinks in the same year were Russia (5.8%), Belarus (5.5%), Peru (5.4%), and Latvia and Lithuania (both on 5.3%);
  • Over the 2008-2013 period, Hong Kong (China) recorded the world’s fastest growth in per capita consumer expenditure on alcoholic drinks, at 201% in real terms. In 2013, consumer spending on alcoholic drinks in Hong Kong (China) reached US$325 per capita, up from US$91.3 in 2008. By contrast, India witnessed the world’s biggest decline in per capita consumer expenditure on alcoholic drinks, at 37.9% in real terms over the same period. In India, the level of consumer spending on alcohol was already low in 2008, at US$8.4 per capita, before falling to US$6.3 per capita in 2013, as alcohol consumption is banned in several states and the consumption of “intoxicating drinks” is even prohibited by the Constitution;
  • Of all discretionary consumer expenditure categories (that is, all categories apart from food and non-alcoholic beverages and housing), alcoholic drinks and tobacco is the least discretionary spending category, the level of consumer spending on which usually varies the least across all income levels. This is because the natural ceiling on consumption for alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and the greater permeation of the healthy living ethos among higher socioeconomic groups create a more equitable spending distribution for alcoholic beverages and tobacco;
  • The level of per capita consumer expenditure on alcoholic drinks in a country can be a direct result of government policies such as alcohol consumption ban; high taxes on beer, wine and spirits; or ban on advertising and promotional activities of alcohol companies. This can have implications for businesses not only in the alcohol industry but also in relating industries such as retailing, advertising and media, and health goods and medical services. Meanwhile, the share of consumer expenditure devoted to alcoholic drinks can also shed light on income levels, consumption habits and demographic trends of a country.