In both the United States and the United Kingdom, alcohol consumption is a long-standing tradition. The stats below will give you a better idea about the sheer scale at which alcohol is produced and consumed in these two countries:
- The average American drinks 470 pints of beer in a year.
- Thirty-seven percent of the American population abstain from drinking altogether.
- 4,328 pensioners in Britain received care for drinking problems in 2018/2019.
- 15.1 million adults in the US suffer from alcohol use disorder. That’s 6.2% of the total population.
- A quarter of Americans try alcohol before they turn the age of 18.
- Americans drank around 9.5 liters of alcohol in a year – the same as 31 glasses of wine.
It is no surprise that alcohol consumption has only increased over the years. When you compare the figures with the last decade, it’s easy to see that alcohol consumption has risen sharply in both countries.
1. Americans drink the equivalent of 470 pints of mild beer annually. The average British drinker consumes 1,100 pints of beer in a year.
The USA has one of the lowest rates of drinking in the developed world. According to the WHO, the average American drinks just around 31 glasses of wine. When you compare this figure with the rest of Europe, and the UK, you realize that there’s a significant difference. The average British drinker consumes roughly 73 glasses of wine!
2. Britons over the age of 15 consume 8.7 liters of pure alcohol in a year. The average American consumes 8.9 L in a year.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the average American drinks almost 800ml less pure alcohol than the average British drinker. According to experts, baby boomers were one of the main causes for the higher rates of drinking. The United States consumes less pure alcohol per person in a year than countries like France, Austria, Russia, and Germany too.
3. The United Kingdom has the highest proportion of heavy episode drinkers at 33.4%. The United States had 24.5%.
Heavy episodic drinking is the proportion of adult drinkers who consume at least 60 grams of pure alcohol on at least one occasion in the previous month. Approximately, this translates to around six alcoholic drinks in one go. As reported, Britain had the highest number of heavy episode drinkers. Surprisingly, despite its size, the United States ranks below France, Russia, and even Nicaragua on the list, coming in at 24.5%.
4. The share of people who have never drank alcohol was 15.1% in the United Kingdom, as compared to 12.0% in the United States.
5. Craft beer exports rose by 33% in the UK in 2015 as compared to 16% by the United States in the same year.
Despite having no clear definitions about craft beer, the UK has seen massive growth in the craft beer industry over the past decade. In the US, there are around 1,300 craft beer breweries, and the country has a strict set of criteria that defines what turns a beer into craft beer.
Growth in the UK market has been exponential, and it’s obvious that global interest has continued to grow in the UK markets.
6. The UK spent 21.6 billion GBP on alcoholic beverages in the previous year. In the United States, this figure was 252.82 billion US dollars.
Since 2011, sales in the USA have increased by 30 percent, showing an increase of around 4.3 percent in a year. The increase comes as beer loses market share to spirits and wine to some extent. Beer sales in the USA have remained stagnant in certain parts and declined in other regions.
In the United Kingdom, this figure has grown steadily over the past decade. In 2018, it was 21.278 billion GBP, and increased by 0.3 billion pounds in 2019.
7. 16,672 people in the United Kingdom died from alcohol consumption in the UK in 2017. In the United States, this figure was 80,986.
The United States suffered a far higher number of deaths due to alcohol consumption when compared with the United Kingdom. The figure is measured across all age groups and factors in both sexes.
8. The number of pubs in the UK have declined steadily over the past decade. There were 47,200 pubs by last year, down from 47,600 in 2018.
The British drinking culture is heavily defined by pubs. They play an integral role in the local drinking scene, and it is vastly different from the bars in the United States. However, the number of pubs throughout Britain have continued to decline throughout the last decade, caused mainly due to closures.
9. The number of pubs and bars increased by 315 in the United Kingdom from 2018–2019.
(Source: Office for National Statistics)
Driven by food sales, the number of bars and pubs in the United Kingdom increased by a mere 315, or a 0.8% increase. There was also an increase in the number of kitchen staff employed by most pubs, indicating that people preferred eating more than drinking. According to the Office for National Statistics, around 457,000 people work in bars and pubs throughout the country.
10. According to estimates, 15 million people struggle with alcohol use disorder in the United States. In the UK, this figure is around 600,000.
Only 10 percent of the people in the United States out of the 15 million are seeking treatment for their condition. In the United Kingdom, almost 82% of the diagnosed individuals do not seek treatment. In order for an individual to be diagnosed with AUD, they must meet any two of the 11 criteria set under DSM-5.
11. Percentage of fatalities caused due to drunk driving in the USA was 31% in 2015, compared to 16% in the UK.
(Source: WHO Global Status report on Road Safety)
In the United States, almost 31 percent of all road deaths were attributed to alcohol-related causes in 2015. This is almost double the percentage when compared with the United Kingdom in the same year, as reported by WHO. In that report, South Africa reigned supreme, with a whopping 58% of all deaths caused by alcohol consumption.
12. Americans spend about 1 percent of their gross annual income on alcohol ($565 a year). In the UK, this figure was £868.
In the United States, the average household spends around $5,650 in a decade. This translates to roughly $11 in a week. In most American cities, $11 is the cost of a cocktail, so these statistics are pretty conservative. In most cases, the weekly figure is likely to exceed the $11 mark.
Fun fact: if $565 were invested at an APR of 7 percent for 40 years, it would come to $113,000 before inflation adjustment.
In the United Kingdom, this figure is house. On a weekly basis, the average British household spends £16.7 on alcohol drinks. This is around 3% of the average household budget in the UK. In fact, this is more than the amount people spend on buying fish and meat from stores in a year!
13. Low or no ABV brands in the UK make up 1.3% of the market. In the US, this figure is just 0.5%.
10 years ago, it would have been nigh impossible to find a non-alcoholic beer at any of the pubs throughout the UK. That trend has changed dramatically. In 2019, the first non-alcoholic beer dispensing mechanisms were deployed at bars throughout the country. Today, low or no ABV brands constitute 1.3% of the market.
It’s clear that the country has done a fantastic job of raising awareness about these products. However, in the US, this figure is still very low. While people are becoming more and more aware of the alcoholic content in their drinks, the USA has not done enough to promote awareness. According to IWSR, more than 70% of Americans said that they have not considered consuming non-alcoholic beverages.
Another reason for this is the extent of innovation in the UK beer market, which include several zero alcohol alternatives to big brands like Heineken and Carlsberg also introducing zero alcohol beer. Forecast growth for ready to drink low or no ABV products in the UK is around +44.3%.
14. The number of alcoholic liver disease deaths in the USA was 23,172 in 2018. In the UK, this figure was much lower, coming at 7,700.
The number of deaths caused in the United States due to alcoholic liver problems was considerably higher than the UK. A contributing factor has to be the fact that healthcare is not universally available in the United States, and many people simply cannot afford to get themselves treated.
In the UK, this number is much lower due to the availability of universal health care afforded to all citizens by the NHS. In the UK, alcohol-related liver diseases account for 60% of all liver disease. One in five adults in the country drink in a manner that could cause permanent liver damage.
15. 10.2% of pregnant women in the United States report drinking in the past 30 days. In the United Kingdom, almost 28.5% of women reported consuming alcohol during pregnancy.
The United Kingdom reported the highest percentage of female pregnant drinkers throughout Europe, even higher than Russia, which ranks second at 26.5%. Norway, Poland, and Sweden had the lowest percentage. According to the study, women who consumed alcohol during pregnancy were likely to be older, more educated, and with decent employment.
In the United States, this figure was lower. Alcohol use was reported to be highest amongst women between the ages of 35 and 44 years (18.6%). College graduates came second at (13%). The number of pregnant women who reported binge drinking was significantly higher (4.6%) than non-pregnant women (3.1%).
Alcohol consumption trends have changed dramatically in both the countries in the previous decade. Awareness is on the rise throughout the UK and the USA regarding alcohol consumption and its harmful effects, and more resources are available for an average person to understand the crippling impact that alcohol addiction can have on a person.
Bars and pubs have introduced healthier alternatives, and there are plenty of support options available for the average individual as well, many of which were not available before. While alcohol consumption as a whole has increased in both countries, more responsible drinking is also becoming common, as can be seen from the facts above.
The differences are still quite profound, mainly due to the vastly different cultures. Alcohol consumption has also changed due to the variations in per capita income. These are the most interesting stats from the last decade related to alcohol consumption in the UK and the USA.