Kirin Beverage Corp has bucked the trend for soft drink sales in Japan in 2003. The company announced today a rise in sales during last year of 9% to 170.3m cases, in spite of the unseasonably cool summer in the country.

Kirin also said it is hoping for a rise in sales in 2004 of 7% to 182m cases. This compares to an estimated 1% to 2% in the overall domestic soft drinks market.

In its midterm plan, the soft drinks maker is aiming for a group operating profit in 2006 of Y21 billion (US$196.4m) based on sales of Y500 billion. In 2002, Kirin posted an operating profit of Y15.29 billion on sales of Y319.2 billion.

The company also expects to expand its overseas soft drink business. Earlier this month, the Japanese company announced that it is to launch a joint venture in Beijing with Uni-President, based in Taiwan, with a view to marketing new products based on Kirin brand beverages. The venture is expected to launch in the spring.