• Kyodo


Shipments of beer and beerlike alcoholic drinks rose 9.5 percent in January from the previous year, logging their first increase in three months on solid sales of mainstay products spruced up by renewals, data from five major brewers said Thursday.

The pace of growth is the highest since the 13 percent logged in January 2011. Some 22.48 million cases were shipped last month, with each case equivalent to 20 633-ml bottles on a volume basis.

Two of the leaders — Asahi Breweries Ltd. and Kirin Brewery Co. — renewed key products in December. Their efforts got a lift from the unusually long New Year holidays, which coincided with a stretch of good weather that contributed to the sales surge.

By category, regular beer shipments soared 10 percent to 11.21 million cases thanks to robust demand from households and stores. Shipments of “happoshu,” a low-malt near-beer, grew 3.5 percent to 3.15 million cases, while cheap “third-category beer” gained 11.2 percent to 8.11 million cases.

The five breweries are Asahi Breweries, Kirin Brewery, Suntory Liquors Ltd., Sapporo Breweries Ltd. and Orion Breweries Ltd.

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