Business / Corporate

Japan works to keep up with beer demand as Rugby World Cup kicks off

JIJI

Brewers and eateries across Japan are gearing up to meet the boosted demand for beer during the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which is expected to draw 500,000 visitors from overseas.

Efforts are underway to prevent taps from running dry at the 12 venues across the nation and at nearby restaurants and pubs.

The organizing committee of the ongoing World Cup predicts that up to as much as 100,000 350-ml glasses of beer could be consumed per match at each stadium alone.

The committee has called on municipalities hosting the stadiums and eateries around the match venues to procure sufficient amounts of beer in advance, warning that a sold-out situation could spark complaints from spectators from abroad.

The World Cup kicked off on Friday, with Japan defeating Russia 30-10 in a Pool A match in the group stage, the only game played on the opening day.

Kirin Brewery Co. plans to increase production of the Heineken brand by more than threefold in September from a year earlier, aiming to boost sales in the three months to November by more than twofold. Dutch brewer Heineken NV is a Worldwide Partner of the World Cup, and Kirin is licensed to produce the beer in Japan.

Hub Co., a British-style bar operator, has secured seven times as many kegs of beer as usual at its outlets near the competition venues, expecting that they would be “fully packed” when matches are played, a public relations official with the Tokyo-based company said.

Izakaya (Japanese-style pub) operator Monteroza Co. will welcome rugby fans from overseas by offering dishes and beers from participating countries at some 1,500 outlets, including those of the Shirokiya chain.

Meanwhile, beer demand from Japanese people is expected to surge prior to the consumption tax hike to 10 percent from 8 percent on Oct. 1. The tax rate will be kept at 8 percent for takeaway food items and nonalcoholic beverages, a measure designed to cushion the impact of the tax hike, while the rate will be 10 percent for alcoholic drinks, regardless of whether they are taken away or consumed at eateries. Brewers expect consumers to buy popular beer in bulk before the tax hike.

This month, Suntory Beer Ltd. and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. are increasing production of beer and quasi-beer, including so-called third-segment beverages, by some 10 percent year on year. Asahi Breweries Ltd. is boosting output of its canned Super Dry label by about 20 percent.

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