Sales of beer and beer-like drinks by all four major Japanese brewers fell in the first half from a year earlier, affected by sluggish demand in restaurants amid the new coronavirus epidemic, their data showed Friday.
However, sales of low-priced third-category beer made from malt alternatives or a mixture of spirits grew in the January-June period, as people turned to drinking at home instead of on a night out to reduce the risk of catching the virus and to save money, according to the data.
Sales volume of third-category beer topped that of regular beer for the first time in the six-month period, while the entire beer and beer-like products market is estimated to have shrunk by around 10 percent, the companies said.
By volume, Kirin Brewery Co. lost 4 percent, Sapporo Breweries Ltd. dropped 7 percent and Suntory Beer Ltd. tumbled 11 percent.
Asahi Breweries Ltd. posted a 17 percent plunge in sales by value, and did not release figures by volume.
Shipments of barreled and bottled beer to restaurants and other businesses were weak between March and May, after a state of emergency issued over the virus in April prompted many eateries to temporarily close or cut opening hours.
But beer shipments started returning to normal in June as many restaurants resumed regular operations after the state of emergency was lifted in May, the brewers added.
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