Japan beer sales hit new low

Japan beer sales hit new low

Kirin Holdings has claimed victory against rival Asahi after securing a larger slice of Japan's beer market for the first time in nine years.

Kirin Brewery had 37.7% share of the beer and beer-like beverages market in 2009, creeping past Asahi Breweries by 0.2%, figures from the companies show.

Analysts attributed the rise to demand for Kirin's relaunched flagship Ichiban Shibori beer.

There was further bad news for all of Japan'sbrewers, however, as industry figures revealed beer volumes down 2% to 472.5m in 2009.

The volume was a record low for the fifth straight year and highlights why all major brewers are looking abroad for growth.

Volumes of beer and low-malt "happoshu" fell 6.7% and 15.6% respectively, but cheaper no-malt beers surged 21.4%.