Sapporo Breweries has posted its third consecutive yearly decline in volume sales of beer and beer-like products.

The Japanese company said yesterday (9 January), that domestic beer and beer-like sales dropped 3.6% to 61.5m cases last year compared to the same time the previous year.

The dip in sales was blamed partly on Japan's declining population.

Local reports this week cited Sapporo president Masaru Fukunaga as saying: "Beer sales have nowhere to go but down. We have to further shift emphasis to quality from quantity. We need to develop new products, for which consumers wouldn't mind paying high prices."

Looking forward, the company has projected that regular beer sales will climb 5.4% to 39.2m cases in 2008, based on the prediction that its Yebisu brand will see a 10% jump in sales. Total sales are forecast to decline, however, due to planned price hikes in April.