Drinking Declines on Every Continent Except 1

Global alcohol consumption decreased last year for the first time in more than a decade. On a regional level, though, one continent bucked the trend.

Global alcohol consumption decreased last year for the first time in more than a decade.

On a regional level, though, one continent bucked the trend: North America.

Data published this week by Euromonitor International, a market research firm, show that global alcohol consumption dropped by 0.7 percent in 2015. In North America, however, drinking increased by 2.3 percent.

Regions in which drinking dropped by noteworthy percentages in 2015 include:

  • Eastern Europe: -4.9 percent
  • China: -3.5 percent
  • Brazil: -2.5 percent

So what type of alcohol are drinkers downing most these days? According to Euromonitor International, the following types of alcohol were “the flag bearers of growth”:

  • Premium English gin
  • Irish whiskey
  • Japanese whiskey
  • Dark beer
  • Nonalcoholic beer

The firm explains in a blog post:

It is no coincidence that those also happen to be the segments gaining further momentum with the ever important millennial demographic in mature Western markets.

Euromonitor International also reports that terms like “authenticity” and “craftsmanship” have lost pull with consumers due to becoming overused and commonplace. Instead, drinkers are looking for types of alcohol with attributes such as sophistication and perceived exotic credentials.

For 2016, Euromonitor International is predicting that a gradual increase in alcohol consumption will begin, but consumption “will remain substandard compared to historical trajectories.”

As for America, Philip J. Cook, a Duke University professor who studies alcohol consumption patterns and their effects, told the Washington Post earlier this year that Americans’ increased alcohol consumption could be to blame for the country’s increased rate of death from alcohol-induced causes.

From 2002 to 2014, the rate of deaths from alcohol-induced causes (like alcohol poisoning and the liver disease cirrhosis) increased by 37 percent, reaching a 35-year high, the newspaper reported.

Cook noted that per-capita alcohol consumption has been increasing in the U.S. as well since the late 1990s, telling the Washington Post:

“Since the prevalence of heavy drinking tends to follow closely with per capita consumption, it is likely that one explanation for the growth in alcohol-related deaths is that more people are drinking more.”

What’s your take on the fact that North Americans are drinking more? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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