UK alcohol consumption fell again in 2013, to the lowest level this century according to the British Beer & Pub Association’s Statistical Handbook 2014. In 2013, alcohol consumption per capita was down 1.7 per cent on 2012. The new Handbook shows a strong downward trend in consumption in the past decade, with per capita consumption down a substantial 18.1 per cent since 2004.
The new Handbook also sheds light on the renaissance in British craft brewing in recent years, with many small local breweries opening. There are now 1,442 breweries in the UK, up 190 on 2012 and 188 per cent more than in 2000. The Handbook’s detailed section on alcohol related-harm shows falling trends in several key indicators. Drinking by young people has fallen; in England in 2013, 39 per cent of 11-15 year olds had ever drunk alcohol, compared to 43 per cent in 2012 and 61 per cent in 2001. Among 11-15s who had had a drink in the last week, average weekly consumption is 8.2 units, compared to 12.5 units in 2012 and 9.8 units in 2001.
The handbook also looks at taxation showing that Britain’s beer taxes remain very high compared with neighbouring countries; three times higher than France, five times higher than Belgium, and 13 times higher than Germany. The international section shows that the UK’s consumption of alcohol is lower than the EU average; 25 per cent less than Germany and 15 per cent less the France, for example.
BBPA’s Brigid Simmonds said “It’s great to see trends in alcohol harms coming down, showing that investment by the industry and partnership with Government, through targeted measures, is having a positive impact.
“There are certainly positives for beer in the data, with greater beer choice for beer drinkers than ever before. But despite the recent cuts in beer duty, Britain’s consumers are still subject to some of the highest tax rates for beer in the EU. Let’s hope we see another tax cut next year.”