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Alcohol consumption has been declining steadily in Australia for the last decade. Drinkers are turning to non-alcoholic and low alcohol alternatives. Co-founder of Melbourne distiller Brunswick Aces Stephen Lawrence has a look at where this sector is heading.

The news of a decline in alcohol consumption may come as a surprise to some, particularly in a country with a rich craft beer and micro-distillery scene that is flourishing in tandem with the big old school players. Drinking is embedded in our culture and we have earned ourselves a global reputation for it.

While it would be sacrilege for some Australians to even suggest cracking open an ice-cold non-alcoholic beer, or tuck into a zero proof G&T, the data does not lie.

We are turning our backs on our booze fuelled lifestyles.

Research from Drinkwise shows that 20 per cent of Australians now abstain from alcohol, an increase of almost double from 11 per cent in 2007.

The move away from alcohol can be attributed to a number of factors: a focus on mental wellbeing; the demands of modern life; and the rise of social media with younger generations not wanting embarrassing images ending up online after a big night.

Calendar events also play a big role. The rise of abstinence months like Dry July and Ocsober challenge Aussies to give up the grog for a month for a worthy cause.

Generation Gap

Nielson data revealed there is a generational difference with Millennials less likely to drink than their elders. Just over half (53 per cent) of Millennials said they had alcohol in the past month, compared to 65 per cent of Generation X and 72 per cent of Baby Boomers.

We created Australia’s first non-alcoholic spirit two years ago as a group of neighbours looking for something different to drink during periods of abstinence.

We then released it to the wider market to answer growing demands. Other brands have since joined the sector and feedback from bars and restaurants says they are increasingly being asked for no or low alcohol options.

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