Thursday, 19 July 2007

Thoughts on consumption

No, this post isn't going to be about TB. I think I owe you some comment on the table of consumption of alcoholic beverages in the UK I posted yesterday. I spent the whole day assembling it and had no time left over for analysis.

I'm not going to get into the Standard and Bulk barrel thing too much. Suffice it to say that average gravity before 1914 was around 1053, so there is little difference between Standard and Bulk barrel figures. (The Standard barrel was based on an OG of 1055). For the period where I don't have the Bulk barrel numbers, we can assume they are not significantly different from the Bulk barrel numbers.

Now I've got that dull introduction out of the way we can progress further.

Over the 150 year period covered, beer consumption varies between a low of 75 litres per capita in 1959 and a high of 146 in 1900. Mostly it's hovered between 90 and 120 litres. That's remarkably stable, considering the social and political upheavals that occurred. What does this tell us? The British have always rather liked beer. Now isn't that a surprise?

When it comes to other drinks, they've been far more fickle.

Let's first take a look at spirits. High 3.06 litres in 1900, low 0.44 litres in 1949. The high is 7 times greater than the low, whereas for beer it was less than double. Consumption of spirits has gone up, it's gone down, but it's pretty much back to the level of 1914.

Wine has taken a simpler course: high 19.6 litres in 2002, low 0.41 litres in 1945. The high is a massive 48 times greater than the low. And except for a small blip during WW II (I guess not much French or Italian wine was imported in the 1940s) has risen almost continually in the 20th century.

For me, the biggest surprise is cider. Sadly I have no figures for before 1962. Like wine, the only way has been up: high 10.3 in 1999, low 1.6 in 1962. The high is 6.5 times greater than the low, but the period covered is only 40 years. I would never have guessed that. I can't say that I had noticed a huge jump in cider sales. I must have been asleep, or, more likely, just not paying attention.

No comments: