Kirin Brewery has overtaken fierce local rival Asahi Breweries in terms of shipments of beer and beer-based drinks, reports in Japan said today (12 July).

Kirin shipped almost 86.8m cases of beer and beer-based drinks during the first half of this year, according to reports quoting figures from the Brewers Association of Japan. That tally compared to the almost 86m cases shipped by Asahi.

The figures meant that Kirin's share of the Japanese beer market moved to 37.6%, just above Asahi's 37.3%, the reports said. Kirin now leads Japan's beer market for the first time in five years.

Kirin put its strong performance down to robust sales of low-malt beer brand Enjuku and its Nodogoshi Nama beer-like non-malt drink, the report added.

Asahi, however, saw its low-malt beer - or happoshu - sales slide in the first six months of the year, a fall that offset growing sales of flagship brand Super Dry.

The figures quoted from the Brewers Association of Japan revealed that the country's top five brewers shipped 230.66m cases of beer during the six-month period, up 1.1% on the year.