April beer shipments at record low

Kyodo

Total shipments of beer and beerlike drinks plunged 11.3 percent in April from a year earlier to 36.23 million cases, marking the first drop in two months and a record low for the month, data from the five major brewers showed Monday.

The drop follows an increase the year before caused by efforts to make up for an inventory shortage caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as well as weak demand during the cherry blossom-viewing season in early April due to cool weather.

Shipments of regular beer dropped 14.7 percent to 17.36 million cases and those of “happoshu” low-malt beer sank 18.4 percent to 5.69 million cases. Shipments of relatively inexpensive third-category beer fell 2.3 percent to 13.18 million cases for the first fall in two months. Each case holds 20 633-milliliter bottles.

Shipments of third-category beer accounted for 36.4 percent of total shipments, hitting a record high for April, while those of regular beer accounted for 47.9 percent, a record low for the month. Happoshu stood at 15.7 percent.