JAPAN: Beer shipments slide yet again
Japanese beer shipments fell for the third consecutive time in the first half of this year, according to figures released last week. Shipments of beer and happoshu fell by 6.4% year-on-year in the January to June period, according to beer shipment data from the nation's top five brewers. The fall was credited to a fall in sales of happoshu following price rises and a shift in demand towards other low-priced alcoholic beverages.
Shipments of regular beer fell by 3.4% to 135.98 m cases for the six-month period. The pace of decline fell, however, after three years of double-digit decreases. Demand for beer in bars and restaurants grew in the first half, due mainly to the steady economic recovery in Japan.
A recent heat wave in the country compared to an unusually cool summer last year has given beer makers cause for a more positive outlook. The average temperature in central Tokyo from 1 July to 10 July was up by about five degrees on the year, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Shipments of happoshu products slipped by 10.7% year-on-year in the six months to 88.32 m cases, as some consumers shifted from happoshu to other low-priced alcoholic beverage products. Sapporo Holdings Ltd.'s low-price beer-taste alcoholic beverage "Draft One," launched nationwide on 4 February, has enjoyed such good sales that the company has revised its annual sales target upwards twice already.
Asahi Breweries Ltd.'s beer shipments fell by 0.6% in the January to June period to 93.46 m cases. Asahi blamed the relatively small decline on its introduction of two new "happoshu" products - "Aqua Blue" in July 2003 and "Off Time" in March this year. Asahi's market share for the period stood at 41.7%, up from 39.3% a year ago.
Kirin Brewery Co. said its beer shipments dropped by 6.6% to 80.02 m cases in the first half, while its market share slipped slightly to 35.7% from 35.8%.
Sapporo's beer shipments fell by 16.6% to 26.64 m cases in the same period, giving it a market share of 11.9%, down from 13.3%. But with the inclusion of "Draft One," Sapporo's shipments grew 8.8% year-on-year to 34.76 m cases.
Suntory Ltd.'s beer shipments slipped by 14.6% to 22.25 m cases in the half, giving it a market share of 9.9%, down from 10.9%.
Orion Beer Co., a brewery based in Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan, registered a 3.6% rise in shipments to 1.94 m cases.
Falling sales of traditional beers and increased competition in the "third beer" category have seen Sapporo Holdings report a 22% fall in 2005 net profits....
Sapporo Holdings has lowered its full-year profit forecast....
Sapporo Breweries has reportedly become the first major Japanese beer maker to warn of flat domestic beer sales this year....
Sapporo Breweries is poised to buy Kikkoman Corp.'s spirits sales and production operations....
Sapporo Breweries has said that sales its of so-called "third category" beer would fall by 30% if the government goes ahead with plans to raise the tax rate on the product....
Sapporo Holdings has registered a massive drop in operating profit for the first nine months of this year....
Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) is launching 'Powerade Aqua+' in the UK....
Sapporo Breweries has raised its sales targets for its low-alcoholic fruit drink brand "Fruit Sparkling"....
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