Total shipments of beer and beerlike drinks dropped 3.7 percent in 2011 from a year earlier to a record-low 442.39 million cases, due partly to disruption to supplies after the March 11 calamities, industry data showed Tuesday.
The latest annual shipments marked the second-largest fall since comparable data became available in 1992, and the seventh straight year that an all-time low has been seen, data by five major brewers showed.
Shipments of regular beer fell 4.1 percent to 221.03 million cases, and at 49.96 percent accounted for less than half of total shipments for the first time ever. Meanwhile, shipments of inexpensive, so-called third-category beer grew 1.8 percent to 153.34 million cases. One case holds 20 633-ml bottles.
Asahi Breweries Ltd. had the largest market share for the second year running with 37.9 percent, closely followed by Kirin Brewery Co. with 36.2 percent. Suntory Liquors Ltd. came in third with 13.3 percent, followed by Sapporo Breweries Ltd. with 11.6 percent.