A survey of the top brewers in Japan has shown total beer and quasi-beer shipments were flat in the first three months of this year.

The survey, which collated data from Kirin Breweries, Suntory Breweries, Asahi Breweries, Sapporo Breweries and Orion Beer, was released in the country today (11 April). Total shipments from the five brewers between January and March this year rose fractionally by 0.1% year-on-year to 11.1m cases. Each case contains the equivalent of 20 633-mililitre bottles.

While shipments of beer slid by 0.7% to 52m cases and low-malt 'happoshu' sales dipped by 0.1% to 25.8m cases, third segment beverages - which contain little or no malt - were up by 2.9% to 19.4m cases.

A closer look at the figures shows that Kirin returned to the top of the brewer pile in the period, accounting for a 37.5% share in the market, edging back ahead of Asahi with 37.2%. Kirin had strong sales of its 'The Gold' brand - launched last month - to thank for its performance, the data noted.

Sapporo came in third, with 13.1% market share, ahead of Suntory (11.4%) and Orion (0.9%).