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Beer is often known as the drink of choice among Australians and it seems this will not change in the near-future according to recent research. Beer has registered a healthy 2% total volume growth of 2% within Australia, meaning there has been 1.9 billion litres consumed by Australians in the last year. This can in part be attributed to the increase in popularity of ale, which recorded strong growth of 9%. Beer is expected to register a total volume CAGR of 1% over the forecast period to reach 2.0 billion litres in 2022.
Craft beer sales and the number of locally-brewed craft beer options continued to increase in 2017. According to Craft Beer Reviewer, there were 528 craft beer breweries in Australia in January 2018, with a new craft beer brewery opening every six days. While craft beer in Australia is largely made up of ale, its definition remains contentious as a beer positioned as “craft” can be owned by a multinational company. Craft beer consumers are motivated by seeking out new products and supporting locally-produced products and local businesses. As a result, provenance and the authenticity of a product remain important purchasing factors for craft beer consumers. The growing craft trend had the biggest impact on domestic mid-priced lager, which recorded a decline in sales in 2017, particularly on-trade. In contrast, premium beer sales remained robust in 2017 as Australians continued to choose to drink less but drink better quality alcohol. These trends are expected to persist over the forecast period as the craft trend continues to alter the local beer landscape.
With more Australians travelling and exposed to international food and brands, international beer brands continued to experience growth. More Australians were also willing to experiment and try new beers, with this same experimentation an important driver of the craft beer trend. In particular, imported premium lager continued to experience strong growth due to the increasing premiumisation within alcoholic drinks more generally. Imported lager continued to make up a growing proportion of the lager category over the last five years. In 2017, imported lager accounted for almost one quarter of total volume sales in lager in Australia.
Growing aspirations to live a healthier lifestyle not only translated to lower overall consumption of alcoholic drinks, but also a shift in the types of drinks being consumed. Notably, mid-strength beer gained popularity due to its lower ABV and carbohydrate content. Lower-carbohydrate beers also experienced growth. This was supported by new product developments and marketing efforts by manufacturers, such as Wingman Brewery ANZ’s Wingman 4.5, released in October 2017. This trend towards greater health consciousness is expected to continue. Professor Toumbourou from Deakin University noted that a greater proportion of teenagers abstained from alcohol.