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Earlier today I was shopping and noted the range of beer for sale. Among the many Australian brands were some of the famous Southeast Asian brands, including Singha, Chang, Bintang and Tiger.

That got me thinking. What are the trends for alcohol consumption in Southeast Asia? I won’t spend too long looking for evidence, but here is a quick assessment.

To start with, Southeast Asia (and Asia more broadly) isn’t a world leader in alcohol consumption, as the graph below (source in Italian here) indicates.

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Among countries at a regional level, as the graph found here and replicated below illustrates, Indonesia’s beer consumption is rising (or at least it was until a couple of years ago) but the country doesn’t contribute much to the Asian total (either at a national level or on a per capita basis). Vietnam, in contrast, certainly does well (so to speak) on both national and per capita measures.

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Another set of figures broadly supporting this assessment of national alcohol consumption rankings is here and replicated again below.

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A cursory assessment of these figures suggests that beer consumption is generally more of a north Asian characteristic.

What then about other forms of alcohol, like spirits? From the same source here again…

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Another very cursory assessment of these figures suggests that in contrast to beer, consumption of spirits more generally correlates with wealth per capita. In other words, in Asia as wealth increases at a personal level so does the consumption of spirits.

As Indonesia’s per capita wealth is expected to increase in the future, one big huuuge* question to ask then is whether the winner in the Indonesian market will be Muslim moderation or the manufacturers of spirits. I guess time will tell.

*  Indonesians saying that out loud will get the joke 🙂

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