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Finland sobering up as alcohol consumption declines

Total alcohol consumption in Finland fell last year, continuing a long-term trend. The drop was 4 percent compared to 2013, with liqueurs, spirits and cider seeing the biggest reduction in popularity. Even beer, Finns’ favourite alcoholic beverage, was a little less favoured than before.

Beer in a stemmed glass on a bar.
Beer remains Finns' favourite drink. Image: Jyki Lyytikkä / Yle

Alcohol consumption in Finland continued to decline last year. On average, each person in Finland consumed the equivalent of some 11 litres of pure alcohol in 2014—a drop of four percent compared to the preceding year, according to preliminary data from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Liquors, spirits and cider were all less popular than in 2013, with even beer also suffering a drop. The overall statistics also include alcohol brought into the country by an individual, which was also down on 2013.

That traveller-imported ‘booze cruise’ alcohol, which is often sourced in Estonia, stood at the equivalent of 2.3 litres of pure alcohol per person. Sales in Finland amounted to the equivalent of 9.1 litres per person.

"The fall in total consumption is down to the recession and tax rises, but there could also be a cultural shift in the background," said Esa Österberg of THL. "Many of us have realized that we can get by with less alcohol."

According to THL statistics Finnish alcohol consumption peaked in 2007, since when the total drunk each year has gone down by 13 percent.

Finns’ drinking habits have been undergoing a long-term shift, with a move away from liqueurs and spirits and towards beer. Wine is becoming more popular, but beer is the clear favourite tipple among Finns who drink.

"We mostly drink beer," said Österberg. "It accounts for about 45 percent of the alcohol that we drink."

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