IWSR challenges ‘inflated’ Lancet consumption forecasts

15th May, 2019 by Melita Kiely

Research by IWSR Drinks Market Analysis has indicated that per capita growth of alcoholic drinks could be declining and suggested recent forecasts by The Lancet journal have been “inflated”.

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IWSR says The Lancet‘s alcohol consumption forecasts have been “inflated”

A study published by medical journal The Lancet last week reported a 70% rise in the global consumption of alcoholic drinks between 1990 and 2017.

Furthermore, the study predicted per capita consumption would rise by 18% in the lead up to 2030, contradicting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) targets to reduce alcohol intake. As a result, it called for a global alcohol advertising ban.

Various members of the global drinks industry hit back at the report, accusing researchers of using a “questionable” forecasting model and producing results that contradict findings by the WHO.

The IWSR has added its voice to these concerns and claimed that the forecasted figures may have been inflated.

Mark Meek, IWSR CEO, said: “IWSR Drinks Market Analysis has tracked a similar rise in per capita alcohol consumption during the 27-year period and actually recorded a marginally higher rise of 74% in 100% alcohol intake.

“More recent trends might, however, question whether the momentum is in place for the alcohol sector to realise the continued growth levels predicted to 2030.”

The IWSR said that between 1990 and 2000, alcohol intake rose by 20%, accelerating to 25% during the following 10 years to 2010.

However, there has been a “considerable slowdown” in alcohol consumption, with consumption growth falling to 17%. The IWSR noted that the study accepted there will be a drop-off in the growth rate, but said the predicted rise “appears bullish” even with the anticipated increase in female drinkers and higher wages in low- and middle-income countries.

Furthermore, the IWSR highlighted that in lower- and mid-income countries, the illicit alcohol trade has often been a “significant” proportion of the market. However, these regions are experiencing an increase in regulated, taxed and “safer” alternatives – particularly in Africa where the IWSR has recorded that the amount of alcohol consumed has “ballooned nine-fold since 1990”.

It also noted that the alcoholic drinks industry has embraced promoting a responsible drinking ethos to avoid a public relations backlash if consumption volumes become too high.

The IWSR added that the total global wine and spirits market has dropped 1.4% in the last five years, but volumes that fall into the premium-and-above segment have increased by a 20%, indicating that a “lot of future drinkers will be drinking less but better”.

Meek added: “In the future it is likely that all of these constraining factors will come together to dilute the per capita growth levels for alcoholic drinks, suggesting that The Lancet’s study projections are inflated.

“There is also another disruptor appearing over the horizon that could potentially redefine the beverage landscape as we know it.

“The domino effect of cannabis legalisation could mean that by 2030, THC-infused cannabis drinks will have marginalised alcoholic drinks in some parts of the world.”

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