A fall in beer consumption continues to hit Japan’s major brewers, with two of its top beer makers reporting sales falls for the first half of the year.Kirin Brewery said sales fell 5.4%, but the firm’s pretax profits jumped 8.3% to Y33.25 billion, for the six months ended June 30 2000. Sales totalled Y4.86.75 billion. However operating profits fell 6.3% to Y22.77 billion.Kirin’s managed to report a gain in pretax profits because of an accounting change in reporting unrealised losses from securities.Kirin reported that the volume of sales fell 5.9%, with Kirin lager dropping 19%. However sales of low-malt Kirin Tanrei climbed 13%. Low malt beer is cheaper than normal beer as it is subject to a lower tax rate.Sapporo Breweries saw a fall of 3.6% in sales in the first half to Y215.24 billion. Unconsolidated pre-tax profits slumped 65% to Y1.17 billion. Operating profits fell 26% to Y4.02 billion.