Just released Stats NZ data on beer, wine and spirits consumption December 2023 [1] shows that we are drinking less and are drinking in a different way.

Our consumption has declined in the past year over all categories by 4.3% to 477 million litres.  Beer has declined by 4.4% to 281 million litres; wine by 2.4% to 99 million litres and spirits fell 5.7% to 97 million litres.

The way in which New Zealanders drink is undergoing a cultural shift.  Alcohol consumption has declined more than 25% since the late 1970s early 80s [2].

In the past 16 years the number of standard drinks available for consumption has declined by 12.3% [3] Health NZs low-risk alcohol drinking advice for women is no more than 10 standard drinks a week and men no more than 15 standard drinks a week.

“Some of this cultural change reflects that we are drinking differently including sipping and savouring a beverage and turning to low and no-alcohol beverages”, said NZABC executive director Virginia Nicholls.

In recent years New Zealand breweries, distilleries and winemakers have invested in innovation to enhance their no/low beer, wine and spirits offerings, with greater choice and better flavour.

A poll of 1,000 New Zealanders in December 2023 found 55% (up from 49% in 2021) of respondents drinking low-alcohol beverages at least some of the time, and some of us prefer low alcohol beverages.

The NZ annual Health Survey [5] tells us that more of us are drinking in a more responsible way with 84% of New Zealand adults – more than four out of five of us – drinking beer, wine and spirits responsibly.  This is an increase of 3 percentage points from last year which is 110,000 fewer kiwis drinking in a harmful way [6].

“We are encouraged by this continuing cultural change, including a reduction in hazardous drinking, however we still have a way to go,” said Virginia


[1] All comparisons are between year end December 2023 and December 2022, except where otherwise stated: Alcohol available for consumption: Year ended December 2023 | Stats NZ.

[2] Total NZ population 15 years and over total alcohol, 12 litres per person in 1978, in 1986 11.282 litres.  Year ended December 2023 – 8.2 litres per person year ended Dec 23.   Browse – Infoshare – Statistics New Zealand (stats.govt.nz)

[3] Ibid.  Number of standard drinks (a standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol) available for consumption per person aged 18 years and over, per day 2009 (2.12 standard drinks) and 2023 (1.86 standard drinks).  Over the past 16 years the proportion of the total volume shows us that beer has decreased from 65% to 59%, wine was unchanged at 20% and spirits and spirit-based drinks increased from 15% to 20%.

[4] Curia Market Research, 1,000 participants, December 2023

[5] Latest New Zealand Health Survey results provide valuable information about the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders | Ministry of Health NZ, accessed 14 December 2023

[6] Ibid.  This is an estimated 670,000 adults (22/23) and 780,000 adults (21/22).

About the New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council

The NZ Alcohol Beverages Council is a pan-industry group that comments publicly on matters relating to the beer, wine, spirits and beverage industry. It focuses on supporting responsible alcohol consumption and wants to see a fair and balanced debate on alcohol regulation in New Zealand.