Asahi Breweries today (4 August) posted a fall in half-year profits as sales of happoshu beer missed targets.

Asahi, which last month lost the top spot in Japan's beer market to Kirin, saw operating income fall 7.1% to JPY28.6bn (US$250.3m). Net sales inched up 1.2% to JPY664.4bn.

The brewer cut its full-year forecast for beer volumes from a rise of 3.4% to 1.4%. "We had struggled with happoshu more than we expected," Yoshihiro Goto, Asahi's senior managing director, told local reporters. "We will aggressively market new products in the second half."

This week, Asahi said it would expand its stable of 'third-category' beers with the launch of Asahi Gokuuma in October.

"With the launch of new drinks, the company will be able to gain sales volume for sure," Nomura Securities analyst Yoshiyasu Okihira told Reuters. "The key is how to balance that and an increase in costs."