Asahi surpasses Kirin in beer sales

Kyodo News

Asahi Breweries Ltd. replaced Kirin Brewery Co. as Japan’s beer and beerlike beverage market leader in the first half of this year for the first time in two years, industry data revealed Wednesday.

Even though it posted a 1.5 percent year-to-year decline in shipments, Asahi boosted its market share to 37.4 percent to barely outstrip Kirin, whose share fell to 37.3 percent with shipments decreasing 2.7 percent, according to data released by beer makers and the Brewers Association of Japan.

Sapporo Breweries Ltd. ranked third with market share of 13.2 percent, followed by Suntory Ltd. at 11.2 percent and Orion Breweries Ltd. at 0.8 percent.

Total beer and beerlike beverage shipments of the five major Japanese brewers for the six months declined 1.9 percent from the same period last year to 226.29 million cases, the lowest since industry data began to be compiled in 1992. One case contains 20 633-ml bottles.

The decline in shipments came despite the relatively warmer weather in June and the introduction of new products, indicating that young people are shifting away from beer, industry sources said.

Shipments of conventional beer declined 2.8 percent, although sales-promotion efforts were brisk at Asahi, which marked the 20th anniversary of Super Dry, and at Kirin, which introduced a new product, The Gold.

Shipments of low-malt beer known as “happoshu” also decreased 2.7 percent, while those of “third-category” beer, or nonmalt beerlike sparkling drinks, increased 1.5 percent.

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