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Increase in Spirit-based Drinks Available


Increase in Spirit-based Drinks Available for Consumption

The volume of spirit-based drinks available for consumption increased to 34.5 million litres in the December 2003 year, according to Statistics New Zealand. This is an increase of 3.1 million litres, or 9.8 percent, compared with the December 2002 year.

The demand for spirit-based drinks (with an alcohol content of no more that 23 percent) has been rising steadily since 1995, and now represents 79 percent of all spirits and spirit-based drinks, and 7.9 percent of all alcoholic beverage available for consumption. Spirits with an alcohol content of more than 23 percent have fallen to 9.4 million litres in the December 2003 year. This is a decrease of 400,000 litres or 4.0 percent compared with the December 2002 year. Spirits with an alcohol content of more than 23 percent have remained within the range of 8.7 to 9.8 million litres since 1995. The total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption in the December 2003 year was 436.5 million litres, an increase of 0.6 percent compared with the December 2002 year.

The total volume of pure alcohol available in the December 2003 year was 27.98 million litres, a decrease of 0.1 percent compared with the December 2002 year. This reflects the decrease in spirits and fortified wines.

The total volume of wine available for consumption increased to 79.1 million litres in the year to December 2003. This represents an increase of 1.0 percent compared with the year ended December 2002.

Table wine (up to 14 percent alcohol) available for consumption increased by 1.2 million litres, or 1.6 percent, in the December 2003 year, compared with the December 2002 year. Table wine produced in New Zealand increased by 977,000 litres, or 1.7 percent, while imported table wine increased by 247,700 litres, or 1.3 percent over the same period. Fortified wine (with an alcohol content of 15 percent or more) fell to 1.3 million litres, a 25 percent decline in the December 2003 year, compared with the December 2002 year.

Beer available for consumption in the December 2003 year fell to 313.5 million litres, a 0.3 percent decrease compared with the December 2002 year. The availability of beer with an alcohol content of more than 4.35 percent increased from 21.8 percent of the total in the December 2002 year to 23.9 percent in the December 2003 year. Beer with an alcohol content of 2.5 to 4.35 percent, the most common strength available in New Zealand, decreased by 2.9 percent.

During the December 2003 year, the number of cigarettes available for consumption fell 16 percent to 2,367 million compared with the previous year. The number of cigarettes available for consumption peaked at 6,346 million in the December 1977 year, and the number available remained between 5,900 and 6,500 million until 1984. From 1985 to 1988, the level of cigarettes available for consumption was between 5,200 million and 5,700 million per year, falling to the 4,000 million to 4,500 million level between 1989 and 1991. For the last three calendar years, the level of cigarettes available for consumption has remained below the 3,000 million level. Tobacco available for consumption fell to 795 tonnes in the year ended December 2003, a decrease of 1.8 percent when compared with the previous year.

The volume of cigarettes and tobacco made available for consumption is sensitive to changes in excise duty, which may affect comparisons between years.

The volume of cigarettes and tobacco available for consumption represents tobacco products cleared for local consumption on which duty has been paid. Caution should be used in interpreting these figures to represent actual consumption.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician


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