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Alcohol consumption per head down again in 2014 – but remarkable cheer for beer adds to ‘overwhelming’ case for beer duty cut


  • UK alcohol consumption per head down yet again – 0.3 per cent drop in 2014
  • Beer recovers market share for first time since 2006, extending its lead over wine
  • Per capita alcohol consumption lowest this century, and below levels seen in 1998

New figures out today show that the amount Britons drink has fallen yet again, by 0.3 per cent in 2014 - for the eighth year in the past ten. But in a startling turn around, Britain’s beer drinkers have overturned a long-term trend, with beer increasing sales and recapturing market share, extending its lead as the nation’s favourite tipple.

The news is certain to increase calls for a historic, third cut in beer duty in the March Budget, says the British Beer & Pub Association, to further boost Britain’s locally-made, lower-strength national drink and pub favourite.

The figures, compiled every year by the BBPA based on HMRC alcohol tax returns, show that alcohol consumption per head is now 18.4 per cent lower than it was in 2004, when the current, falling trend began.

However beer’s share of the market rose in 2014, by one per cent, to over 36 per cent – with second-placed wine slipping below 33 per cent. Spirits share of the market held steady, at 21per cent, with cider at 8 per cent. Beer’s performance in 2014 is all the more remarkable, as bar one small upward blip in 2006, its market share has fallen in every year since 1995.

Beer’s absolute increase in sales has also been very good news for the Chancellor, with beer bringing in £3.36 billion in beer duties in 2014, up 1.8 per cent compared with the previous year.

Brigid Simmonds, BBPA Chief Executive, comments:

“While the figures certainly bury the myth that overall UK alcohol consumption is inexorably rising, it is hugely encouraging to see such a solid performance from beer in 2014.

“There is no doubt that two cuts in beer duty have had a huge impact in supporting a British-based industry and in encouraging consumers back towards our favourite, lower-strength drink .

“With new investment in the beer category protecting pubs and creating jobs, it all adds to an overwhelming case for a third, historic cut in beer duty in the Budget on 18th March.”

Year Litres of alcohol per head per year Change year on year
1998 7.95
1999 8.32 4.6%
2000 8.42 1.3%
2001 8.74 3.8%
2002 9.07 3.8%
2003 9.21 1.5%
2004 9.51 3.3%
2005 9.35 -1.7%
2006 9.04 -3.3%
2007 9.16 1.3%
2008 8.88 -3.1%
2009 8.34 -6.1%
2010 8.36 0.2%
2011 8.16 -2.4%
2012 7.92 -2.9%
2013 7.78 -1.8%
2014 7.76 -0.3%

Notes to editors:

The data was compiled by the British Beer & Pub Association, from data published on 27th February in the HMRC Alcohol Bulletin.

Figures are based on total alcohol rereleased into the UK market, so are not based on sampled or survey data.

The BBPA applies average strengths to wine and cider to establish overall levels in consumption (beer and spirits are already measured in pure alcohol terms), producing data that is widely accepted and used, including by Government sources and the health sector.

The British Beer & Pub Association is the leading body representing Britain’s brewers and pub companies. The Association is more than a century old and was originally founded as the Brewers’ Society in 1904. Our members account for some 90 per cent of beer brewed in Britain today, and own around 20,000 of the nation’s pubs.


Beer Duty, Alcohol policy, Statistics

For further information contact:

Neil Williams
Head of Media
Tel: 020 7627 9156 / 07974 249 779

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