Over 14 million Australians are now consuming alcohol – with wine the most popular choice

Proportion of Australians aged 18+ who consume alcohol in an average four-week period. Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, Apr. 2019 – Mar 2020, n=14,632. Oct. 2022 – Sep. 2023, n=62,929. Base: Australians aged 18+.

Australian research company Roy Morgan has released a report detailing the proportion of Australians who drink alcohol and their beverage preferences. Wine was listed as the most popular choice, however RTD consumption has continued to increase, reaching a record high in late 2023.

According to the report, the number of Australians drinking wine increased from 8,096,000 (41.0%) pre-pandemic to 9,068,000 (44.1%) in the 12 months to September 2023 – an increase of nearly 1 million people, although Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine notes that the portion of the population has not changed dramatically.


“Compared to a year ago there are now 9,068,000 Australian adults drinking wine in an average four weeks, up 159,000 on a year ago – though the share of the population is virtually unchanged,” said Levine. “Over half of Australian adults aged 65-79 (50.7%) and 50-64 (50.3%) drink wine in an average four weeks.”


The Alcohol Consumption Report shows that the proportion of Australians who drink alcohol was at 68.1% in the 12 months to September 2023, up by 1.8% points since the pre-pandemic period in the 12 months to March 2020 (66.3%).

The standout alcoholic beverages over the course of the pandemic have been ‘Ready-to-drink’ (RTDs) for which consumption increased from 2,138,000 Australians (10.8%) pre-pandemic and that number has more than doubled to 4,319,000 (21.0%) in late 2023 – a massive increase of over 2.1 million people.

In contrast to wine and RTDs, the major category that hasn’t been able to arrest a long-term decline is the beer category. Although consumption of beer did increase during the early stages of the pandemic this momentum quickly dissipated.

Now under a third of Australians, 6,725,000 (32.7%) consume beer, down significantly from the 7,413,000 (37.6%) who did so in the 12 months to March 2020 just before the pandemic struck and turned the world upside down during much of the past four years.

The spirits category enjoyed a clear ‘pandemic boost’ of over 1 million extra consumers and in the 12 months to December 2021 there were 6,759,000 (33.8%) Australians drinking spirits, however this ‘boost’ has now receded. There are now 5,623,000 (27.3%) Australians drinking spirits, down slightly from 5,671,000 (28.7%) pre-pandemic.

Levine says the increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic years has been sustained and driven by a doubling in the consumption of RTDs (‘Ready-to-drink’) and almost 1 million more Australians drinking wine than pre-pandemic.


“Consumption of RTDs has continued to increase, consumption of wine has plateaued at a far higher level than pre-pandemic, consumption of spirits has largely returned to its pre-pandemic levels and consumption of beer – which had the smallest pandemic increase – has continued its long-term decline.”


“The short-term pandemic related trend peaked in the 12 months to June 2021 with overall consumption of alcohol reaching a high of 69.7% of Australian adults. Since then, the share of adults consuming alcohol has declined by 1.6% points to 68.1%. However, the growth in population over the last two years means the raw number of adults drinking an alcohol beverage has continued to increase since mid-pandemic – up 105,000 to a record high 14,013,000.

“The ‘shock’ of the pandemic disrupted, and has apparently ended, a longer-term trend of declining alcohol consumption amongst the Australian population. In the year to June 2006 nearly three-quarters of Australian adults, 73.5%, drunk an alcoholic beverage in an average four weeks.

“The strong performance of RTDs (Ready-to-drinks) and wine over the last few years has helped arrest this long-term decline and means total alcohol consumption today is sustainably above pre-pandemic trends – and is up on a year ago.

“In contrast, the spike in the drinking of spirits experienced during the pandemic has proved short-lived with 5,623,000 Australian adults now drinking spirits in an average four weeks, down 201,000 on a year ago and down over 1.1 million from the pandemic peak of spirits consumption in 2021.

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