Japan’s beer shipments hit record low in 2018

Japan’s beer shipments have been dropping for 14 consecutive years, and hit a new record low in 2018 with another 2.5% dip, according to figures published by five major breweries last week.

The drop, according to a report by Jiji Press, is a result of rising retail and on-trade prices against a thinning pool of restaurant goers, due to a searingly hot summer.

The tepid performance, also squeezed by the rise of craft beer from smaller breweries other than the big five, has also prompted the Brewers Association of Japan to announce that it will no longer release beer shipments data in the future, the report said.

The overall shipments from Asahi Breweries, Kirin, Suntory, Sapporo and Orion totalled 393.9 million cases (20 633ml bottles a case) during the year.

Beer shipments fell 5.2% to 193.91 million cases, down for the third consecutive year.

Shipments of ‘happoshu’, the low-malt content quasi-beer, carrying lower prices than beer, also dropped for the third year by 8.8% to 50.15 million cases.

The only growth is from the third, cheapest segment, beer-like beverages. This segment grew 3.7% to 149.83 million cases, according to the data, the first increase in five years.

Asahi Breweries still leads market share with 37.4%, followed by Kirin with 34.4%, Suntory Beer with 16%, Sapporo Breweries at 11.4% and Orion Breweries Ltd. with 0.9%.

Explaining on the decision on not releasing shipments figures for 2019, the association said, the statistics “are no longer good for monitoring the entire beer market.”

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