Shipments of beer from the country’s five top brewers in April made up less than half the market for beer and beerlike drinks for the first time ever, due partly to stronger demand for cheaper nonmalt drinks, called “third-category beer,” industry figures showed Tuesday.

Beer shipments accounted for 48.2 percent of the total beer and beerlike beverages market, which includes “happoshu” low-malt beers, according to the Brewers Association of Japan and major brewers.

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