Japan's third-largest brewer Sapporo today (4 August) saw its first-half losses narrow on the year, despite falling sales.

Sapporo posted a net loss of JPY3.9bn (US$34.1m) for the six months to the end of June. The result compared to a loss of JPY5.2bn last year. However, the brewer saw sales fall 4% to JPY200.1bn.

Sapporo has seen its sales of so-called "third-category" beers slump in recent months despite being the first to launch a brand in the segment in 2004.

Demand for "third-category" beers has soared in Japan due to the lower taxes levied on the products. "Third-category" beers are made from ingredients such as bean protein and caramel and are not classified as beer, so escaping higher taxes.

Competition in the category is tough with rival brewer Asahi this week revealing it was to expand its presence in the segment with the launch of a new brand in October.