Combined shipments of beer and “happoshu,” a low-malt, beerlike beverage, fell 4 percent in January from a year earlier, down for the fifth consecutive month, according to data released Thursday by Japan’s five leading brewers.

Shipments of beer and happoshu in January totaled 346,130 kiloliters, according to Asahi Breweries Ltd., Kirin Brewery Co., Sapporo Breweries Ltd., Suntory Ltd. and Orion Breweries Ltd.

“The decline reflects weak consumption amid the deflationary trend, as well as lower temperatures in January,” an industry official said.

Beer shipments slipped 11.2 percent to 221,928 kiloliters, continuing a 34-month losing streak.

Happoshu shipments rose 12.2 percent to 124,202 kiloliters, growing for the seventh consecutive month.

Happoshu accounted for 35.9 percent of the overall beer market, up 2.2 percentage points from last year.

Asahi, the only brewer to release figures on tax-imposed shipments, said total shipments of beer and happoshu slipped 1.9 percent to 151,169 kiloliters.

Suntory said its shipments rose above last year’s levels, while Kirin and Sapporo noted a decline in shipments.

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