Source: The Mercury, 24 November, 1998, p.12
By JOSH WHITTINGTON in Canberra AUSTRALIAN drinkers knocked back 336 beers each on average last year and guzzled record quan- tities of light beer. New figures also reveal people are eating less meat and drinking more wine. Drinkers seem to be heed- ing the health message with one out of every four beers opened across the country now low-alcohol. Figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show a continuing decline in full-strength beer popularity. People drank 24.9 litres of low-alcohol beer each on average last year, a rise of 3.6%, while full-strength beer dropped by 2% to an average of 70.1 litres a person. Despite the change in pro- portions, overall beer con- sumption remained steady. The Aussie steak suffered slightly with the average per- son eating 1kg less meat than last year. Average consumption fell to 74.2kg a person with peo- ple turning away from beef and lamb and choosing to eat slightly more pig meat and poultry products. But Australians continued to change what they drank with their meat. In the past five years, light beer and wine consumption have increased while full- strength beer has fallen. Last year was no different with light beer consumption rising by nearly 4% and full- strength beer falling by 2%. The average Aussie of legal drinking age now enjoys 126.4 litres of beer a year. Uncorking a bottle or open- ing a cask of wine is becoming more popular with average consumption rising to 26.2 litres each. The respective figures equate to 336 cans of beer and 260 glasses of wine for every legal Australian drinker. Other beverages showed only minor changes in de- mand. Soft drinks were less popular, dropping by nearly 2%, and supermarket milk remained steady. This was despite powdered full-cream milk falling by nearly one-third to less than 1kg a person and skim milk dropping by 20%. Tea continued to slide in popularity with consumption declining by 22.5% in the past five years. Tea drinkers may well be turning to coffee, which has increased by more than 4% in the same period. Butter sales jumped while table margarine dropped.
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