Domestic shipments of beer and beer-like beverages in Japan rose slightly last month ahead of further price rises in the country, according to recent figures.

Statistics from the Brewers Association of Japan and the major brewers, released today (12 March), showed that shipments in February rose 6.5% on the corresponding month in 2007, totalling 34.4m cases. One case equates to 12.66 litres.

Asahi Breweries, which is battling Kirin Brewery for the top spot in Japan's beer market, has lined up a price hike for later this month, which helped drive shipments in February, industry observers have claimed.

Asahi's shipments soared by 52.3% on February last year, to 18.33m cases with shipments of its Super Dry brand leaping 63.8%. The company reported strong sales of its 'happoshu' and so-called 'third category' beer brands.

The lift follows an 11.9% lift in sales in January, with Kirin warning that it would up its prices in February.

Kirin's sales fell back a little in February, thanks in part to the price rise. Specific figures, however, were not disclosed. Sapporo Breweries and Suntory, both of whom have warned that they will up their prices in April, also saw sales decrease in the month.