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Opportunities abound in Australia’s alcoholic beverage market

November 1, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Understanding the different regulations, taxes, sales channels, and purchasing trends is crucial for exporters to succeed.

Australians like their alcoholic beverages, but they have pared down their drinking a bit since the peak of the pandemic lockdowns.

Two-thirds of Australians (67.9%) imbibed in wine, beer, or spirits during an average four-week period over the 12 months that ended with June 2022, according to the Roy Morgan Alcohol Consumption Currency Report. That amounts to 13.6 million people, age 18 or older.

The numbers are down 1.8% from the previous year, when periodic lockdowns forced Australians to stay home. During that year, 13.9 million Australians (69.7%) said they drank alcoholic beverages during an average month.

Wine is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Australia, but ready-to-drink beverages such as hard seltzer are quickly climbing. The report said 44.6% of residents had sipped wine in the past year, down from 46.3% a year ago, while 16.7% had a ready-to-drink beverage, up from 13.5% the year before.

“Hard seltzers began to hit the Australian market in significant numbers in 2019, just before the pandemic struck, and these newer alcoholic products are still attracting an increasing array of customers,” the report said.

One-third of Australians (33.3%) said they drank beer during an average month last year.

The alcoholic beverage market is an attractive one for U.S. exporters, including those in Wisconsin, but they should be aware of some relevant regulations and trends:

  • The legal drinking age in Australia is 18.
  • In general, alcoholic products must be sold at designated liquor stores and cannot be sold at retailers such as convenience stores or gas stations.
  • The retail liquor market is highly concentrated. Three companies dominate, together making up more than 70% of the market: Endeavour Group (43.5%), Coles Group (17.1%), and Metcash (10.4%).
  • Each state and territory has different regulations on the types of alcohol that can be sold and the premises that can sell alcohol.
  • There are strict rules related to the marketing and packaging of alcoholic beverages. Undesirable and banned drinks include those that encourage “fast consumption,” appeal to minors, or can be confused with non-alcoholic beverages.
  • The overall market size is relatively small compared to the U.S., and shipping costs can be high.

Beverages that may present the most opportunities for exporters include spirits and ready-to-drink options that align with broader trends in Australia, including boutique or premium brands and products that are considered healthier.

To better to understand the local regulations, taxes, and available sales channels, exporters are encouraged to review local liquor laws. In addition, Food Standards Australia New Zealand provides labeling requirements; the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code sets marketing standards; and the Australian Taxation Office lists excise duty rates.

Key industry publications include The Shout and Drinks Trade.

 

 

 

 

 

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