Domestic brewers racing to boost high-end beer sales


The nation’s main breweries are trying to raise sales of premium beer over cheap quasi-beer as consumer sentiment improves with the stock market upturn.

Premium beer has been locked in a battle with cheaper “third-segment” beers known for their low to no malt content.

Taking note of the stock market surge caused by the government’s weakening of the yen, an official at Suntory Liquors Ltd. described “Abenomics” as “a plus” for good beer, referring to the economic policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Beer-makers are racing to boost sales toward summer, when demand peaks.

Sapporo Breweries Ltd. on Tuesday raised this year’s demand estimate for its premium Yebisu brand because sales have been robust since the start of the year.

On the same day, Suntory Liquors said it would increase production of its Premium Malt’s brand by 10 percent from June to August because sales from January to April posted year-on-year growth.

Asahi Brewers Ltd. had been cautious about promoting premium beer because of the sluggish economic sentiment since the 1980s bubble economy imploded around 1990. The company has since reversed course and is set to launch a high-end beer called Dry Premium, a variant of its flagship Super Dry brand, in June as demand revives for real beer.

Kirin Brewery Co. plans to boost sales of a beer developed jointly with convenience store operator Seven-Eleven Japan Co.

  • Chris Poel

    Once again, an article in Japan Times that doesn’t mention the fast-growing Craft Beer segment in Japan. This article only mentions “premium” beers by the big four makers. How about looking a little deeper into the beer world and reporting on how craft beer is booming?

    Chris @ Baird Beer, Shizuoka

    • Carl

      Although I strongly applaud the sentiment, Chris, especially since I love your beers, in the Japan Times’ defense I’m afraid that in this particular case your complaint is misdirected. This is not an article produced by JT editorial–it is an article from the wire service Jiji Press that the JT picked up and ran.

      • Chris Poel

        Carl, very true. However, these kinds of “press release” articles that just laud what the big guys are doing appear all too frequently. It wouldn’t take a whole lot of effort to add some information about us little guys. ;-)

        I’d be happy to help put Japan Times in touch with people who could provide a ton of information and who would be very happy to do so.

    • Ditto, what Chris Poel said

  • Guest

    I wholeheartedly concur with Chris Poel’s sentiment.

  • blimp

    What Japan needs to do is to change(read “get rid off”) its very odd way of taxing beer, based upon malt content.