Beer is no longer thirst quencher of Aussies

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Melbourne, Feb 22 (ANI): The sale of beer in Australia has gone down dramatically in the past 12 months, and the wet weather, metrosexual men, changing tastes and rising living costs are being blamed for it.

Beer consumption plummeted at a record rate in the second half of 2010, falling by an estimated 7 percent in the six months to December.

Brewers blame rising interest rates and utility bills for squeezing household budgets and leaving less money to spend on alcohol, in addition to wet weather and storms.

Fosters Group expects the industry to continue to suffer in the next six months, forecasting beer sales to fall by a further 3 to 4 percent by the end of June, taking it to a whopping 10 percent down.

Fosters, which owns VB, Carlton and Crown, says drinkers have also become more "promiscuous" in their habits, and are branching out into other beverages.

"People are being tempted by cider, especially on ice, which is an exported trend from the UK, or to premium beers, and wines," the Daily Telegraph quoted a company spokesman as saying.

"Plus we've had a lot of wet weather and that has had an impact, so we've fallen down below the long-term trend, although we expect to bounce back in the not too distant future," he said.

Lion Nathan, owner of brands such as Tooheys and XXXX, blames interest rates and the weather for the declining sales.

"Beer sales were up very strongly in 2009, so the fall in 2010 looks disproportionately big. We expect sales to return to long-term trend next year," a spokesman said.

But industry analysts are sceptical about claims wet weather has impacted sales.

"Wet weather does not have as much of an effect on beer sales as cold weather," a Citibank analyst said.

"Every one degree change in temperature can affect beer sales by 2 to 3 percent.

"And although rainfall does influence demand, it has less impact on the need to relieve thirst than temperature and sunshine hours.

"We believe the recent floods in Queensland and other states will have limited impact," the analyst said.

However, Sydney drinkers say there are other reasons why beer is not a good fit in a city where a proportion of the population watches their weight and fitness. (ANI)

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