Now that its summer, we can expect icy cold beers to be quenching thirsts. However, did you know that despite Japan’s hottest summer in 113 years last year, domestic shipments of beer and beer-like beverages in 2010 were the lowest on record since 1992?
According to figures released by Japan’s five leading breweries, total shipments for 2010 stood at 459.17 million cases, down 2.8 percent from 2009 to mark the sixth straight year of decline. One case is equal to 20 633-milliliter bottles. Beer-like beverages include low-malt “happoshu” and inexpensive “third-category” near-beer that contain little or no malt.
The companies attributed the drop to imports of third-category beer, which were sold at discount prices at major supermarkets. An increase in other beer alternatives, such as whiskey highballs and nonalcohol beer, was also cited.
Of the beer and beer-like products, third-category beer increased its share by 3.5 percentage points to 32.8 percent from the previous year. It is the first time they have accounted for more than 30 percent of shipments since their sales began in 2003. The share of regular beer meanwhile dropped 0.4 point to 50.2 percent year on year to hit a record low.
Asahi Breweries Ltd. regained the top position in the domestic market for beer and beer-like drinks with a 37.5 percent share. Kirin Brewery Co., which had the largest share in 2009, fell 1 point into second place at 36.7 percent, followed by Suntory Ltd., whose share increased 0.6 point to 12.9 percent, and Sapporo Breweries Ltd., which saw an increase of 0.3 point to 12 percent over a year earlier.
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