• Kyodo News

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Domestic shipments of beer and beerlike drinks in January slumped 12.9 percent from a year earlier to 19.43 million cases, hitting the lowest level for the reporting month since relevant data began in 1992, according to figures released Friday by major brewers.

Overall shipments declined for the first time in two months as regular beer shipments tumbled 11.9 percent to 9.84 million cases, due in part to lower consumption among young people. One case holds 20 633-milliliter bottles.

Shipments of low-malt “happoshu” beer plummeted 32.8 percent to 3.44 million cases, while those of inexpensive, so-called third-category beerlike alcoholic drinks rose 2.1 percent to 6.15 million cases, a record high for January with consumers tightening their belts amid the economic downturn.

As a result, third-category beer surpassed 30 percent of overall shipments. Particularly popular in this category were Kinmugi produced by Suntory Liquors Ltd. and Mugi to Hop made by Sapporo Breweries Ltd.

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