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Japan’s beer imports hit record low

Japan’s beer imports dropped 2.6% in 2016 to 414.76 million cases, hitting a record low for the 12th straight year, according to data released by five major Japanese brewers.

Japanese beer

In Japan, beer is cast into three categories based on malt content, namely beer (over 67% malt content), and ‘happoshu’ (a lower-malt content beer) and the beer-like beverage called ‘hodgepodge’.

In 2016, imports of all three categories went down. Shipments of the first category beer decreased 2% to 210.7 million cases, while happoshu shipments dipped 6.8% to 57.3 million cases. Shipments for the last category, which have little or no malt content, declined 1.2% to 146.75 million cases.

The decline, according to Jiji Press, was affected by the country’s ageing society and economic weakness that caused people to dine out less. Meanwhile, the growing popularity of other alcohol products such as canned “chuhai” spirits also dampened consumers’ demand for beer.

In terms of Japan’s leading beer companies’ market share, Asahi Breweries Ltd took the lion’s share of 39%, followed by Kirin Brewery Co (32.4%), Suntory Beer Ltd (15.7%), Sapporo Brewries Ltd (12%) and Orion Breweries Ltd (0.9%).

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