Australian beer drinkers are shunning traditional brands like VB, Carlton Draught and Crown Lager due to high-end competition and lower demand for tap beer.

Brewing giant SABMiller said three of its top Australian brands recorded falls in volumes over the past year as "competitive intensity," persisting economic uncertainty and weak consumer sentiment hurt the company's share of lager.

"Victoria Bitter declined by one per cent and Crown Lager declined, reflecting both a strong prior year comparative and price compression from imported brands," London-listed SABMiller said in its March 2014 full year results.

The company also indicated that pub drinkers were turning their backs on popular tap beers.

"Carlton Draught was impacted by its exposure to the more depressed on-premise channel," SABMiller said.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released in April found Australian drinkers consumed less beer in 2013 than they have in the past 67 years.

Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence suggests craft beers are gaining favour over mainstream brands.

Still, SAB managed to report strong volume growth in its mainstream Carlton Dry and Carlton Mid brands as it looks to promote its premium beers.

Brands such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro and local brew Fat Yak all did well over the past 12 months.

The brewer said a focus on premium brands had delivered 10 per cent volume growth in its super premium portfolio.

The company said total volumes in Australia were down nine per cent.

SAB also added Kopparberg, an international cider, to its portfolio as the nation's thirst for cider continues to gains momentum.

ABS figures showed cider consumption rising to about double what it was four years ago.

Overall national alcohol consumption fell for the sixth straight year in 2013, to a 17-year low despite alcohol being the most affordable in 20 years.

AAP

 

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