The Great Convergence? Changing Patterns of Global Alcohol Consumption

The Economist magazine’s current issue includes a brief  article on “Booze Around the World: The Changing Demography of Drinks,” which features  this interesting info-graphic.

It is interesting to see that alcohol consumption per person (third graph) is experiencing a type of convergence in the main markets that some globalization theorists have predicted more generally due to falling income disparities among leading nations and international cultural exchanges that take place via media, immigration and tourism.

Although the graphs are about alcohol in general, this convergent pattern also true for wine, with rising consumption in the new world and falling use in the old world (including Argentina, which is an old world wine country located here in the new world).

The Economist graphs and related story raise a lot of questions. For me the most interesting thing is that, while overall alcohol consumption shows surprising stability (the first graph) the who, what when, where, how and why of consumption displays surprising change (the third graph illustrates the dramatic shift in who and where, for example).

The more things stay the same the more they change? Perhaps! Can’t wait to see what new patterns develop in the next ten years.

6 responses

  1. I know you have discussed Portugal elsewhere, perhaps, I suggest, not giving that country due credit for its competitive strength as demonstrated in the 2014 Wine Spectator annual competition. See for example http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/lifestyle/review-the-finest-wines-from-france-and-california-have-lost-to-portugal/article/415918. I’d like to see what an economist could do with a social-psychologists social network diagram, but do the social network to illustrate which countries compete most among themselves, as for example California vs France, or Australia vs New Zealand. You views/analyses always a facilitation. Thanks.

  2. Hello Mike:
    Interesting indeed. I heard a report this week that within about 20 years, India’s population will surpass that of China. Talk about an untapped market…… I’m assuming religious reasons explain the very low alcohol consumption levels?

    • Yes, that is certainly part of the problem. I wrote about India in Extreme Wine. The constitution sets as a goal the elimination of alcohol and some states prohibit sales. But logistics and taxes are also very serious barriers. There is a growing Indian wine production, however, and optimism about the future.

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