Total shipments of beer and happoshu in Japan fell by 4% in January, against a year earlier, to 346,130 kilolitres, according to figures released by the country's five largest brewers, Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, Suntory and Orion. January was the fifth month in a row which has seen a year-on-year decline.

"The decline reflects weak consumption amid the deflationary trend, as well as lower temperatures in January," an industry official said.

Beer shipments were 11.2% down at 221,928 kls, while happoshu shipments rose by 12.2% to 124,202 kls. Happoshu now accounts for 35.9% of the overall beer market, up 2.2 percentage points from December last year.