Total alcohol consumption rose slightly in 2010, but the consumption of beer fell by almost 2%.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which analysed HMRC alcohol tax returns, said that the amount the UK population drinks remains lower than it was 10 years ago, with consumption continuing to stay broadly flat. Overall consumption rose just 0.6% in the year, compared with a 6.1% fall in 2009.
The BBPA said the figures also showed a trend away from lower-strength drinks such as beer towards stronger drinks. Consumption of spirits rose 4% and wine by 1.1%.
It said the new consumption figures added to the "overwhelming" case for the Government to end the beer duty escalator, and freeze beer duty in the March Budget.
Commenting on the figures, Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, said: "With total alcohol consumption nearly 12% lower per head than in 2004, these figures show that we need to look beyond the headline figures when it comes to shaping alcohol policy.
"Scrapping plans for further rises in beer duty in the Budget would also send a signal on encouraging consumption of lower-strength drinks, and crucially at this time, this could also save over 10,000 UK jobs, protecting Treasury revenues, and stop several more pence being added to the price of a British pint, further hitting UK consumers. The Government says it wants to champion pubs, and herald a great UK manufacturing revival. Our brewing industry is the perfect place to start."
By Neil Gerrard
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