New products help first-half beer shipments score first rise since ’09

Kyodo

Total shipments of beer and beerlike drinks rose 0.4 percent in the first half of 2012 from a year earlier to 201.05 million cases, the first increase in three years for the January-June period, data showed Wednesday.

The increase was attributed to brewers’ efforts in attracting more consumers through new products, according to the data by five major brewers. The rise also represented a recovery from a steep fall last year following the March 2011 disasters.

Shipments of regular beer grew 2 percent amid improved demand from restaurants and bars compared with last year, when people were generally reluctant to go for a drink in the wake of the disasters.

Shipments of relatively inexpensive beerlike “third category beer” increased 2.6 percent and accounted for a record-high 36.6 percent of the total, but those of “happoshu” low-malt beer declined 9.2 percent. Each case holds 20 633-ml bottles.

Asahi Breweries Ltd. led the market during the reporting period for the third year in a row, boasting a share of 37.3 percent, followed by Kirin Brewery Co. with 35.6 percent, Suntory Liquors Ltd. with 14.5 percent, Sapporo Breweries Ltd. with 11.7 percent and Orion Breweries Ltd., based in Okinawa, with 0.9 percent.

The rankings remained unchanged from the first half of 2011.

In June alone, shipments increased 4.1 percent from the year before and registered a year-on-year rise for the second consecutive month.