Australians drinking less alcohol at restaurants: research

27 October, 2016

Alcoholic beverages have seen a sharp decline in servings within the Australian foodservice industry over the past seven years, and reached their lowest level in the year ending June 2016, according to recent research.

The NPD Group's CREST® foodservice market research, which continually tracks consumer use of foodservice outlets.

This decline is seen across all alcohol categories. Specifically, beer—the largest alcohol category by servings—has been in decline for two consecutive years, with servings at a four-year low. Red wine servings dropped by a third and white wine by a quarter, while sparkling/other wine saw modest growth. Cocktails, mixed drinks, and spirits saw serving volumes halved, though somewhat offset by a spike in more niche beverages. 

"Despite an overall decline, the demand for alcohol is still high and there are a number of bright spots in the market," said Ciara Clancy, Director, Australia Foodservice, The NPD Group. "An alcohol offering provides a more complete meal experience for consumers and an additional revenue stream for restaurant outlets offering such products on their menus. In addition, introducing alcohol to the menu opens the door for more evening and late night customer traffic."

Looking at the types of foodservice outlets, full service restaurants (FSR) capture the largest share of alcohol servings, as one-in-three meal occasions include an alcoholic beverage, while only two percent of quick service restaurant (QSR) occasions do. Fast casual, though a small channel, is the only one to deliver long-term growth with alcoholic beverage servings.

"The growth in the fast casual channel suggests that traditional QSR outlets can also successfully take advantage of consumer demand for alcohol," added Clancy. "QSR operators should consider capitalising on consumer demand and the potential for a high eater cheque by introducing alcohol to their menus."