Low-priced “happoshu” beverages accounted for 24.2 percent of Japan’s beer market in May, according to statistics released Monday by the nation’s four largest brewers.
The low-malt, effervescent brews — devised to generate interest amid slumping beer sales — accounted for roughly 25 percent of bottles shipped by brewers during the month.
Shipments of the beverage expanded 35.2 percent in May from a year earlier to 142,179 kiloliters.
The increase was underpinned by Suntory Ltd.’s Magnum Dry brand, which registered a nearly 90 percent jump in shipments. Kirin Brewery Co.’s Tanrei brand also posted a double-digit increase.
Sapporo Breweries Ltd., which added the Reisei Karakuchi Nama brand to its happoshu lineup, also increased shipments by more than 40 percent.
Happoshu brews taste similar to conventional beer but are typically priced lower than regular beer because their low-malt content makes them liable for lower taxes.
The major brewers said they expect happoshu shipments to continue to rise heading into summer, when beer consumption typically increases.
Without happoshu, shipments of beer fell 2.2 percent to 444,784 kiloliters.
The total market, covering both beer and happoshu, increased 4.9 percent to 586,963 kiloliters.