Suds shipments flat for a third straight month

Kyodo

Shipments of beer and beerlike drinks plunged 4.7 percent in February to a record low of 28.42 million cases for the reporting month amid cold weather and heavy snow, data by five major brewers showed Monday.

The shipments, which include so-called third-category beer, also marked their third consecutive monthly year-on-year drop, they said.

Shipments of regular beer fell 3.3 percent to 12.69 million cases compared with the previous year, while “happoshu” low-malt beer slipped 9.9 percent to 4.57 million cases. Third-category beer slumped 4.0 percent to 11.16 million cases, the first drop in two months.

Each case of beer contains 20 633-milliliter bottles.

Real beer accounted for 44.6 percent of all shipments, followed by third-category beer at 39.3 percent — a record high for February. Happoshu stood at 16.1 percent.

Asahi eyes StarBev bid

Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. is considering buying major Eastern European brewer StarBev for possibly over ¥200 billion, sources said Sunday.

British investment fund CVC Capital Partners, which owns StarBev, is looking for someone to purchase its stake in the company, the sources said.

If the purchase price tops ¥200 billion, it would become Asahi’s largest acquisition.

StarBev has its main business base in the Czech Republic and operates in nine countries, including Hungary and Croatia. It has annual sales equivalent to some ¥70 billion.

Major Japanese beer makers are boosting their presence abroad as the domestic market continues shrinking.