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Total alcohol consumption continued to decline in Finland in 2023 – significant regional differences in sales

Total alcohol consumption continued to decline in Finland in 2023 – significant regional differences in sales

17.06.2024 - Alcohol consumption continued to decrease last year. According to the latest statistics from THL, the total consumption of alcoholic beverages in Finland was 8.7 liters of pure alcohol per capita aged 15 and over. This is 2.4 percent less than in 2022.

Total alcohol consumption includes retail sales and on-premises sales in Finland, as well as alcohol brought into the country by Finns and online alcohol purchases.

Alcohol consumption has been on the decline since 2007.

“The decrease in alcohol consumption is a positive development, contributing to the health and well-being of Finns. Increasing the availability of stronger alcoholic beverages gradually undermines national alcohol policy and, therefore, the favorable trend in total alcohol consumption,” emphasizes THL’s lead expert Thomas Karlsson.

Regional differences in alcohol sales

Alcohol is sold more in Eastern than in Western Finland, and more in Northern than in Southern Finland. In Northern Finland (10.5 liters of pure alcohol per capita aged 15 and over), tourism boosts sales, and in the cottage areas of Eastern Finland in Southern Savonia (9.3 liters) and South Karelia (8.6 liters), summer residents also impact sales figures.

However, in the welfare areas of Eastern Finland, alcohol-related morbidity and mortality are higher than in Western Finland, indicating that regular residents in Eastern Finland also consume more alcohol than those in Western Finland.

“The division of Uusimaa into smaller welfare areas highlighted that Eastern, Central, and Western Uusimaa sell less alcohol than the national average. In Helsinki, sales are at the national average,” says THL’s special expert Marke Jääskeläinen.

In the welfare areas of Southern, Central, and Northern Ostrobothnia, as well as Ostrobothnia, alcohol sales are below the national average (7.4 liters). In 2023, the lowest alcohol sales were in the welfare area of Ostrobothnia (6 liters). The low sales in Åland are explained by the alcohol Ålanders purchase from cruise ships.

“Regional differences in sales highlight that national alcohol policies have varying impacts regionally, whether it’s about public disturbances, accidents, or long-term strain on social and health services. This year, funding for social and health services was cut while the availability of stronger alcoholic beverages was expanded. This may increase the burden on social and health services,” Karlsson assesses.

Consumption in restaurants and travel imports increased – retail sales and online purchases decreased

Purchases of alcoholic beverages from retail outlets, such as grocery stores and Alko, decreased by 3 percent in 2023. Retail consumption accounted for 75 percent of total consumption, so its decline had a greater impact on total consumption than the increase in travel imports and on-premises consumption.

Purchasing alcoholic beverages from foreign online stores decreased significantly, by about 62 percent compared to 2022.

“The distribution of alcohol consumption across different purchasing channels still shows a return to the pre-COVID-19 situation. On-premises consumption in restaurants increased slightly, while retail sales continued to decrease. Travel imports also increased for the second consecutive year,” Jääskeläinen explains.

Consumption of mixed drinks increased, other beverage categories decreased

Consumption of mixed drinks increased by nearly 15 percent compared to 2022. Consumption of other beverage categories decreased.

Beers remained the largest beverage category with a 46 percent share. Strong alcoholic beverages accounted for 21 percent of consumption, and mild wines accounted for 20 percent.


Source: THL

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