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Sales of beer in Japan logged steady year-on-year growth in October, aided by a cut in the liquor tax for the alcoholic beverage category at the start of the month, data from brewers showed Thursday.

On the other hand, sales sagged for so-called third-sector quasi-beer products, for which the tax was raised, after demand surged in the lead-up to the hike in the levy.

October sales of beer and quasi-beer fell from a year before at three of the nation's four major brewers — Asahi Breweries Ltd., Suntory Beer Ltd. and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. Sales almost leveled off at Kirin Brewery Co.

The liquor tax for beer was reduced by ¥7 per 350-millimeter can. Asahi's mainstay Super Dry, Kirin's Ichibanshibori and Suntory's The Premium Malt's beer all marked rises of about 20% in sales. Sapporo's Black Label beer saw a jump of about 30%.

Sales of third-segment beverages fell about 20% to 40% at Sapporo, Kirin and Suntory.

But an industry source said that the impact of the tax hike "is expected to fade by the end of this year at the latest" because third-segment products are still cheaper than beer even after the tax increase.

Beer and quasi-beer sales to commercial clients are recovering from the slump caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Sales fell 20% year on year in October, far better than drops of 70% to 80% marked this spring.

The rebound is seen to be have been aided by the government's Go To Eat scheme launched in October aimed at encouraging people to eat out.

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