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Domestic shipments of beer and beerlike alcoholic drinks in July increased 2.1 percent from a year earlier to 47.16 million cases for the second straight monthly rise, due largely to high temperatures across the nation, major brewers said Wednesday.

Asahi Breweries Ltd., Kirin Brewery Co., Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. all saw their shipments in July increase from year-before levels. One case of beer holds 20 633-ml bottles.

Shipments of so-called third-category beer jumped 16.9 percent, reflecting the popularity of newly marketed low-priced products such as Kirin’s Honkaku Karakuchi Mugi and Sapporo’s Mugi to Hop.

Regular beer shipments decreased 0.8 percent and accounted for 52.3 percent of total shipments, the lowest level for July. “Happoshu” low-malt beer shipments fell 11.0 percent.

Asia brews most

Asia overtook Europe as the world’s biggest beer-producing region in 2009 with 58.67 million kiloliters brewed, up 5.5 percent from the previous year, a Kirin Holdings Co. research arm said Tuesday.

Asia was ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1974, when the Kirin Institute of Food & Lifestyle began compiling production data of major beer-producing nations, it said.

In contrast, beer output in Europe shrank 5.1 percent to 55.15 million kiloliters during the 12-month period, the institute said.

It attributed the decline in Europe to slumping private consumption in the wake of the global financial crisis.

In addition to the year’s production expansion, “There is more room for further growth in Asia down the track because Asians’ per capita consumption is relatively small,” it said.

Among Asian beer producers, Vietnam saw a 24.3 percent surge during the period, followed by India at 12.3 percent and China at 7.0 percent.

But beer production in Japan dropped 2.2 percent, it said.

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