According to Stats NZ, the overall volume of beer available for consumption in 2017 fell 1.2% to 289m liters, despite having seen a 3.7% rise in 2016.
While lower-alcohol beers fell, those with a higher ABV grew in popularity. In particular beers with more than 5% AVB rose by 34% to 29m liters.
“The volume of beer above 5% alcohol rose for the fourth year in a row in 2017,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said.
“The volume of high-strength beer available is now over twice the 2013 volume, and three times the 2011 volume, in part reflecting the rising popularity of craft beers.”
While beers over 5% ABV saw strong growth in 2017, beers with an ABV of 4.35-5% also rose 4% to 131m liters.
Today beers in the 4.35%-5% category and beers in the 2.5-4.35% category account for a roughly equal share of the market. However, there has been a marked shift towards higher ABV beers over the last 15 years: in 2002 the 4.35%-5% category was only a fifth of the size of the 2.5%-4.35% category.
Beers in the 4.4-5% ABV category are the fastest growing segment in the craft beer industry, typical of gateway craft styles, according to research from ANZ.
In contrast, beers with less than 2.5% ABV fell 15% and beers with an ABV of 2.5 -4.35% fell 11%.
Wine and spirits
Wine volumes in 2017 were up 1.5% to 111m liters, following on from 4.7% growth in 2016. Table wines made from other fruit and vegetables or flavored with aromatic substances rose 8.2%. In contrast to trends for higher alcohol products in beer, high alcohol wines (fortified wines with an ABV of 14% or more) fell 9.4%.
The volume of spirits and spirit-based drinks rose 5.4% to 77m liters, following a rise of 5.7% in 2016 and 3% in 2015.