Mike Richards

Booze report reveals risky 'super consumers'

A GROUP of Australians labelled by a report as "super consumers" of alcohol make up only 20% of the population over 14 years old, but consume 74.2% of the country's alcohol a year.

A new report from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education shows more than 3.8 million Australians drink more than four standard drinks a day on average - twice the level recommended by health guidelines.

The report said if these "super consumers" reduced their consumption to guideline levels, the total amount of alcohol consumed in Australia would decrease by 39%, or 38 million litres of pure alcohol.

FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said the report underlined how the Australian alcohol industry ensured its best customers continued to drink at dangerously high levels.

"The alcohol industry is totally dependent on risky drinking," Mr Thorn said.

"This is its dirty little secret. It's an industry built on identifying, targeting and exploiting its best customers, and ensuring that almost four million Australians continue to misuse and abuse alcohol and are responsible for nearly three quarters of all the alcohol consumed by the nation."

Australian Liquor Stores Association chief executive Terry Mott said the retail alcohol beverage industry measured its sales in dollars, not litres, and the beer market had experienced significant declines in overall volume. However, sales of more expensive craft beers were on the rise.

"This is also reflected in wine and spirits, where almost all growth is from higher price points," Mr Mott said.

He said the overall per capita consumption of alcohol had declined and was at its lowest point in about 50 years. Mr Mott also said the average volume of consumption by heavier drinkers was declining.

The findings in the report, titled Risky Business, came from an analysis from the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research.

The report also said more than 1.9 million Australians drank more than six standard drinks per day on average, and almost one million Australians consumed more than eight standard drinks a day.

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