Issues > Food & Drink > Companies > Alcohol Retail in Australia
Australia's retail alcohol market is dominated by two players: Coles Group and Endeavour Group (who demerged from Woolworths in June 2021). This is a problem because it puts smaller independent liquor sellers out of business. It also gives these companies significant control over our alcohol industry, meaning they determine what products are available to the average Aussie. This results in less variety and choice for consumers. Additionally, these companies will sell their home brand and private label products under many different names, none of which are usually associated with the parent company. This makes it difficult to tell whether you are supporting an independent brand or one owned/in partnership with Coles or Endeavour.
Endeavour owns the liquor stores Dan Murphy's and BWS, plus house brands that include Castaway Cider, John Boston, Mcallister Whisky, Nelson County Bourbon, Mishka Vodka, Buckeye Rum, and Houndstooth Gin. Coles Group owns the liquor stores 1st Choice, Liquorland, and Vintage Cellars, plus many liquor house brands including Tinnies, Maxx and Steamrail beer, Mr Finch cider, Volsk vodka, Kentucky Gold bourbon, Old Lion's gin, and John Samson scotch whisky.
Another ethical issue with alcohol in Australia is the country's unhealthy drinking practices among minors, and the role companies have in perpetuating this behaviour. The use of sports sponsorships and advertising on social media, bus stops and TV means that children are frequently exposed to material promoting alcohol use. In addition, the advertising and packaging of some products, especially pre-mixed spirits, are particularly attractive to under 18s. Many have called on the government and alcohol companies to change the way children are exposed to these marketing materials.
Check the labelling to find out if the product is a house brand. If the address is for Pinnacle Drinks, then it is an Endeavour house brand. If it is for James Busby or Australian Beer Connoisseurs, it is a Coles Group brand.
Look for small independent Australian-owned brands, rather than Endeavour and Coles' house brands