One in five people is consuming nearly three quarters of the alcohol sold in Australia, according to a report that claims the alcohol industry is dependent on risky drinkers.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education has called for a boycott on public health researchers working with the alcohol industry due to what it believes is a vested commercial interest in ensuring that problem drinkers continue to drink at risky levels.
'Super-consumers' drink 75 percent of alcohol sold
Around 20 percent of the population consumes around 75 percent of all alcohol sold according to the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. Vision courtesy ABC News 24.
Its report is based on a July analysis by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, which broke down the distribution of alcohol consumption in Australia, according to national surveys.
That analysis showed that alcohol consumption declined between 2001 and 2013 among all but the heaviest drinkers, who were consuming an ever greater proportion of beverages sold in Australia.
The top 10 per cent of drinkers had increased their proportion of alcohol consumed from 48.9 per cent in 2001 to 53.2 per cent in 2013.
FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said the alcohol industry was exploiting its best customers.
"The alcohol industry keep pointing to the fact that most people drink responsibly and maturely," Mr Thorn said.
"This data shows the group who are heaviest drinkers consume enormous quantities of alcohol.
"The alcohol industry is totally dependent on risky drinking."
National Health Survey: first results
In December 2015. the Australia Bureau of Statistics' National Health Survey focused on rates of obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption among Australians. (Vision supplied by abs.gov.au)
A 2014 presentation to the drinks trade association, which was reported by the trade publication Liquor News, encouraged retailers to identify and target "super consumers".
"As little as 10 per cent of your customer base can be driving between 40 to 70 per cent of your sales," Nielsen associate director Michael Walton was reported to have told conference delegates.
US research showed "super consumers" of sparkling wine not only bought five times more sparkling wine, but four times more whisky, three times more vodka and three times more wine, Mr Walton was reported to have told delegates. "This is a real opportunity."
Contacted on Tuesday, Mr Walton said his point was that alcohol brands needed to innovate and create new products, such as the introduction in the US of a female-friendly, low alcohol alternative to beer, Bud Lite Marga-Ritas.
"The super consumer was illustrative, but it was not about liquor and it was not about Australia and the whole goal was to say you have a choice in how you find growth for your brand," Mr Walton said.
Australian Liquor Stores Association chief executive Terry Mott said the industry went to great lengths to ensure consumers did not over-indulge.
"Our people are properly trained to ensure that people don't drink to excess," Mr Mott said.