JAPAN: Breweries count cost of earthquake

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  • Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo breweries knocked out
  • Companies still assessing damage
  • Kirin's share price slides

Japanese brewers have suffered significant damage as a result of the earthquake that struck the country late last week, as concerns grow about the disaster's economic consequences.


Kirin Holdings, Asahi Breweries and Sapporo Breweries have reported extensive damage to their facilities following last week's 'quake and subsequent tsunami, which have left thousands dead and many more homeless in the north-east of the country.

The tsunami wreaked destruction on Kirin's brewery in Sendai, damaging vats and beer and forcing the company to shut down operations, it said this week. The group added that it has not been able to confirm the safety of all of its employees in the area.

Rival Sapporo has ceased operations at its breweries in Sendai and Chiba, while Asahi has been forced to close its Fukushima and Ibaraki plants. Suntory has not issued an update on its own facilities.

Some small-scale breweries in the disaster zone also face problems. The Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki "needs quite a bit of rebuilding", according to the group's US importer, B United International.

As Japan digests the full extent of the quake damage, and Japanese authorities struggle to contain damage to nuclear power plants, concerns have grown about the effects of the disaster on the country's economy.

Kirin, Asahi and Sapporo said that it is too soon to quantify the damage caused to their operations. But, with supplies wiped out, breweries out of action and a shortage of electricity hampering operations at remaining facilities, it looks likely that the disaster will have an effect on the brewers' results.

Kirin's share price has lost a fifth of its value in the last week, but the group clawed back some ground today, rising by almost 12%.

Around US$1tn has been wiped off the value of stock markets worldwide following the Japanese earthquake, with the Tokyo Stock Exchange suffering its worst fall since 1987.

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