Monitoring alcohol affordability in Aotearoa New Zealand: 2020 update

18 Oct 2021

In 2019/20, 1 in 5 New Zealanders (aged 15+) drank alcohol in ways that were especially harmful to their wellbeing or the wellbeing of others. There is strong evidence that lower alcohol prices lead to higher alcohol consumption, thereby increasing the risk of alcohol-related harm.

In 2018, Te Hiringa Hauora | Health Promotion Agency published a report which looked at the trends of alcohol prices and affordability in Aotearoa New Zealand. This brief report presents an update on these findings with an emphasis on trends between 2017 and 2020. The findings show that alcohol continues to be more affordable in Aotearoa New Zealand, primarily due to income increasing at a faster rate than alcohol prices. Compared to 2017, it took less time in 2020 for a person on a median income to earn enough to afford an average priced standard drink of beer, whisky or cask wine.

As the affordability of alcohol increases, alcohol use and alcohol-related harm, including health inequities for Māori, are expected to rise. The implementation of alcohol pricing policies, such as minimum unit pricing and increasing excise tax on alcohol, should be considered for reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm.