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Swings and roundabouts

Published:  23 July, 2008

The UK and Ireland continue to buck the trend in Western Europe as, in spite of relatively high alcohol prices and taxation in comparison with most of Europe, they consume alcohol with increasing relish.

The overall picture of alcohol consumption is far from rosy for producers. Total alcohol consumption in the traditional wine-producing countries in Western Europe, such as Spain, Italy and Portugal, shows signs of stabilising after 20 years of decline, with the exception of France. The trend in the 21st century, however, is of increasing stability of per capita consumption of pure alcohol - this includes the US (6.8 litres), New Zealand (6.8 litres), Australia (7.2 litres), Russia (8.7 litres), Germany (10.2 litres), the Czech Republic (11 litres), the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark, but the balance of beverage choice continues to fluctuate within these figures with the consumer, as ever, willing to try out new alternatives in the playing field.

The governments of the UK and Ireland are currently working hard to reduce their countries' binge-drinking culture' with detailed Alcohol Strategies, while at the same time recognising the economic contribution that the thriving on-trade culture makes to the economy.

But the question remains: for how long will the mature markets of the UK and Ireland continue (or perhaps be allowed) to expand?

With thanks to the BBPA, The Wine Institute, World Drink Trends (2005 edition, WARC), Coors and La Journe Vinicole. Further sources of figures include Mintel, AC Nielsen, Datamonitor, Euromonitor IWSR and Vinexpo.