Beer shipments inch up in July-September, first rise in 11 years

Kyodo

Beer shipments in Japan rose 0.3 percent in the July-September period from a year earlier, marking the first rise in 11 years, data from five brewers showed Tuesday.

The shipments gained in the period following the launch of a new beer, The Malt’s, on Sept. 8 by the nation’s No. 3 brewer, Suntory Beer Ltd.

Beer shipments in the period totaled 58.7 million cases. A case of beer is equivalent 20 bottles of 633-ml size.

Moderately priced, The Malt’s made a gushing entry to the market. Shipments reached 1.34 million cases in September alone, or roughly 70 percent of the company’s full-year target.

Asahi Breweries Ltd. and Kirin Breweries Co. are stepping up the promotion of their flagship products Super Dry and Ichiban Shibori, respectively. Asahi and Kirin are the nation’s No. 1 and 2 producers, respectively.

However, despite the uptick, it seems people are drinking less beer overall. Shipments in the year to September dropped 0.6 percent to 153.9 million cases, hitting a record low for the 19th straight year.

The big-five breweries — Asahi, Kirin, Suntory Liquors Ltd., Sapporo Breweries Ltd. and Orion Breweries Ltd. — aim to catch up in the year-end shopping season, they said.