Asahi Breweries is following other Japanese beer makers in raising its retail prices on the back of higher commodity costs.

The brewer, Japan's largest, said today (30 November) that it will lift its prices from the beginning of March by between 3% and 5%. The move marks Asahi's first price hike, with the exception of tax increases, in 18 years.

Higher malt and packaging costs have forced Asahi's hand, with the brewer saying the costs have exceeded what it can absorb through cost savings.

Last month, Kirin Brewery said it too was lifting prices due to rising raw material costs. The company said that, since last year, the cost of imported malt has more than doubled and the price of aluminium has also continued to rise.

Kirin, along with its sister company Kirin Beverage Co. and Suntory, also recently announced that they had teamed up in an effort to conserve resources and reduce packaging costs.

The three Japanese companies plan to synchronise their aluminium can requirements, and jointly purchase cardboard packaging. The introduction of the uniformed cans, which narrow towards the top, will result in an estimated saving of around JPY100m (US$876.7m) per year, the companies said.