Kirin is set to introduce a new brand of happoshu to the Japanese market. The Japanese drinks maker announced last week that the new brand of the low-malt beer will hit the shelves on 21 April.

An advertising campaign for the brand centres on Japan's national soccer team during the qualifying games for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The qualifying round begins in the autumn of this year. The design of the new cans features an illustration of the national team.

The drink will be priced at Y145 (US$1.36) per 350ml can, while the 500ml can will retail at Y201.
Kirin predicts a rise in sales of beer and happoshu in 2004 of 2.2% at 187.2m cases of beer.

Figures released last month, however, showed that Japanese shipments of beer and happoshu by Japan's five top brewers fell by 11.4% in January, compared to the same period last year, to 24.23m cases.