News - Asahi Breweries Ltd, Head Office

News - Asahi Breweries Ltd, Head Office

Asahi Breweries Ltd, Head Office



News - Asahi Breweries Ltd, Head Office


Japan: Competition intensifies in Japan's beer-like beverages segment  (

Competition has been intensifying again in Japan’s market of “third-segment” beer-like beverages, The Japan News reported on May 17.

Last year, combined shipments of beer and “happoshu” low-malt quasi-beer declined for the 14th straight year, but third-segment beverages with little or no malt content saw their shipments rise 3.7 percent, the first increase in five years.

Popularity of the third-segment drink was reignited by Honkirin, released by Kirin Brewery Co. in March 2018.

More than 10 million cases of Honkirin were sold in the first 10 months since the product hit store shelves. A case contains the equivalent of 20 633-milliliter bottles.

The product mimics the taste and feel of beer, but its 350-milliliter can sells about ¥80 cheaper than authentic beer products of the same size. Honkirin is luring consumers in their 40s and 50s.

Other breweries followed suit with their own new releases of third-segment beverages. In January this year, Asahi Breweries Ltd. launched the Gokujo Kireaji, which performed so well that the maker raised the annual sales target in April from 3 million cases to 4 million.

Suntory Beer Ltd. revamped its flagship Kinmugi series for the first time in 13 years in January. In particular, the Kinmugi Gold Lager, a new product, drew strong demand because of its rich taste.

As a result, the company lifted its annual sales target by 30 percent to 4.4 million cases.

In April, Sapporo Breweries Ltd. put into market Honkaku Karakuchi, which features high gas pressure.


Japan: Craft breweries and distilleries investing into their own unique take on whiskey  (

As inventories at Japan's big whisky makers run dry on a surge in demand, craft breweries and distilleries nationwide are making heavy investments to fill the gap with their own unique take on the spirit, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on January 12.

Many of these companies have never made whisky before, but they see big opportunities in the market.

Niigata Beer is spending 50 million yen ($450,000) to turn its warehouse into a whisky distillery, complete with its own still. The Niigata Prefecture-based company even bought 50,000 sq. meters in northern Japan to grow oak for casks.

"Our selling point will be a unique taste developed by a brewery," President Ken Usami said.

Kinryu, which makes shochu spirits in Yamagata Prefecture, kicked a new distillery into full gear in November. The facility produces whisky using the famed spring water from nearby Mount Chokai, aging the alcohol at least three years before it hits the shelf as early as 2021.

Kiuchi Brewery in Ibaraki Prefecture is renovating a former community hall for 400 million yen, with plans to start whisky production there around June. It will use locally grown wheat and rice to craft a product with a distinct regional character.

Domestic shipments of Japanese whisky declined for many years after peaking in 1983 at roughly 380,000 kiloliters. But Suntory Holdings breathed new life into the market with its canned highballs. Shipments grew for the ninth straight year in 2017 to about 160,000 kl, more than double the 2008 figure.

Whisky needs to be aged before it can be sold, so companies now are tapping stock they produced based on projections from lean years. Soaring demand has prompted Suntory to devote nearly 20 billion yen through 2020 to boost its aging capacity by 20%, while Asahi Breweries has invested 6 billion yen to lift production capacity by 80% compared with 2015. But those spirits cannot be bottled for years.

In 2015, Asahi stopped selling its Yoichi and Miyagikyo single malts with age confirmation statements. Suntory has discontinued its Hakushu 12 Year Old and Hibiki 17 Year Old. Smaller companies are taking advantage of this vacuum to build their brand. Growing interest in craft beers and other small-batch alcohol also works in their favor.

"Highballs have introduced more people to whisky, leading to varied tastes," said Toshiaki Yamada of the Sakebunka Institute. "More people have grown particular about where their whisky is produced and how long it is aged."

With whisky more established abroad than shochu, aspiring distilleries also have a shot at expanding beyond Japan if they can prove their products' worth. Japan is now considered one of the world's top five producers of the liquor, and its spirits are highly regarded across the globe.

Food importer Kenten opened a distillery on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido in 2016. It plans to build two more storehouses for casks in the next six years or so, and will start full-scale shipments of 3-year-old bottles as early as summer 2020. The company also wants to increase exports.

Venture Whisky, located in Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo, was among the first newcomers in the field. Since beginning operations in 2008, its Ichiro's Malt has won various awards worldwide. The company is opening a new distillery this spring.

But whisky is a risky business. It takes years to put a product on the market, meaning it also takes years before a company sees any return on investment. Companies need to commit for the long term.

And if these new players end up selling subpar products, Japan's position in the industry could suffer.

"We cannot hurt the global reputation for Japanese whisky that big companies have built," Kenten President Keiichi Toita said.


Japan: Major Japanese brewers aiming to win customers by promoting beerlike beverages  (

Four major Japanese brewers are aiming to win customers this year by promoting “third-segment” beerlike beverages, which have little or no malt content and therefore are priced lower than regular beer, The Japan News reported on January 11.

The companies are redoubling efforts to boost sales, as Japan’s consumption tax rate is set to be raised to 10 percent from 8 percent in October and the country’s beer and quasi-beer market continues shrinking partly reflecting falling demand from young consumers.

Of the four players, Sapporo Breweries Ltd. estimates sales of its beer, “happoshu” law-malt quasi-beer and third-segment beverages this year at 44.5 million cases, down 0.3 percent from 2018.

The other three project growth, with sales seen up 2.2 percent at 150.5 million cases at Asahi Breweries Ltd., 2.0 percent at 137.8 million cases at Kirin Brewery Co. and 3.0 percent at 64.6 million cases at Suntory Beer Ltd.

Each case contains the equivalent of 20 633-milliliter bottles.

Suntory does not have happoshu on its product lineup.

Kirin will revamp Hon Kirin, a blockbuster third-segment product released in March 2018, later this month.

The move comes as part of the firm’s efforts to keep the popularity of existing products through the renewals of their flavors and package designs, after many new products released by the company in recent years failed to sell well, according to Kirin President and Chief Executive Officer Takayuki Fuse.

Asahi will launch a new third-segment beverage, Asahi Gokujo Kireaji, on Jan. 29, after its products in the category fared poorly last year in the face of Hon Kirin’s brisk performance.

The new product, made with the company’s original brewing technique, offers a beerlike sensation, Asahi President Shinichi Hirano said.

Suntory and Sapporo also plan to launch new third-segment products to attract budget-minded consumers.


UK: Asahi Breweries launches non-alcoholic beer Peroni Libera  (

Asahi Breweries has launched a non-alcoholic beer called Peroni Libera 0.0% in the UK, the Drinks Insight Network reported on January 2.

Produced using a customised fermentation process and yeast strain, the new alcohol-free Peroni beer offers citrusy aromas and hoppy notes that are claimed to be similar to Peroni Nastro Azzurro.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s master of mixology Simone Caporale said: “We’ve seen a change in consumers’ drinking habits in the industry; with the rise of mindfulness and well-being, people are more regularly considering low and no-alcohol drinks alternatives and currently there isn’t a premium, great-tasting beer out there for them to enjoy.

“Peroni Libera 0.0% is the perfect alcohol-free beer option for the lower-tempo occasions, a mid-week night out with friends, or during those working lunch occasions.

“Peroni Libera 0.0% delivers a crisp taste, a fine bitterness and a fast and clean finish, with a well-defined taste of beer, meaning those looking for an alternative to alcohol no longer have to compromise on quality or taste.”

Peroni Libera 0.0% was launched in response to a recent trend of mindful alcohol consumption.

Currently, the non-alcoholic beer is exclusively available at Tesco stores across the UK at a price of £5 for a four pack of 330ml bottles. It will be released across the off-trade at a later date.


Japan: Major brewers innovating in ‘colour-free’ beers  (

Japan’s major beer manufacturers have innovated a selection of beer drinks and alcohol-free beer to be ‘colour-free’, the Drinks Insight Network reported on August 31.

These innovations present a significant visual impact and certainly catch the interest of inquisitive Japanese consumers. However, is “colour-free” really right for these products?

Early movers include Asahi Breweries with Asahi Clear Craft, which it made available via selected Asahi-owned bars in a marketing trial. The drink is a transparent colourless happoshu – and happoshu is a beer-related tax category of sparkling low-malt beverage. It’s similar to conventional beer but does not follow the traditional beer recipe of having high malt content.

Suntory’s All-Free All-Time – also an early mover – is a new clear-colour alcohol-free beer. It has been launched as a line extension of Suntory All-Free, which is Suntory’s core alcohol-free beer brand. The drink not only has the interesting colourless visual, but it also comes in a PET plastic bottle which is unusual in the alcohol-free beer category. Similar to its sister All-Free branded products, this new beverage also contains no calories or carbohydrates – so it is in the realms of beer-flavoured carbonated water. Suntory Beer says these new attributes allow consumers to enjoy alcohol-free beer more “freely”, consuming it at work, during their lunch break or after sports – and presumably without drawing the kind of attention that drinking an alcohol-free beer in the office might otherwise attract.

Suntory is no stranger to this space, introducing a clear-colour yoghurt-flavoured drink under its mineral water brand. After witnessing the success of Suntory, many manufacturers released colourless drinks in adjacent drink categories that generally have colour, such as ready-to-drink tea. Even Coca-Cola Japan has launched Coca-Cola Clear zero-calorie transparent cola.

The boom of colourless beverages has been driven by Japanese culture, which highly prizes innovation. The country is known for innovative products not only in beverages but across most consumer goods. Developing eye-catching, cutting-edge innovations is often considered to be high priority in new product development. But is clear beer a step too far?

The first question is whether happoshu – or indeed any beer category products with no colour – are the right direction to innovate in beer? According to Asahi Breweries, the idea of Asahi Clear Craft comes from the desire to develop an extremely light beer drink; to achieve that, eliminating colour is key as drinkers are likely to perceive “full body and rich flavour” because of a beer’s golden colour – even when the taste is actually not so rich. Colourless is a way to offer a refreshing image visually, but beer is a malt- and wheat-based alcoholic beverage, so without its colour it no longer has the identity of beer.

The question of whether colourless alcohol-free beer is actually a beer is even more controversial. In this case the boundaries between alcohol-free beer, soft drinks and sparkling water are becoming blurred. Being a beer-related product without a “beer image” is a key attribute of Suntory All-Free All-Time – the whole idea is that consumers don’t hesitate to drink it at work and after sports.

However, the product is still sold on alcoholic beverage shelves, categorising it as a beer substitute. This is deliberate and it is to avoid encouraging consumers under the legal drinking age to buy or consume conventional beer. But having similar suggested consumption occasions to soft drinks and water makes this a confusing product for consumers.

Another key question is whether eliminating colour from products which originally have colour-giving ingredients is actually safe. Some consumers have a positive image of clear drinks, as they look like water, associating them with health and guilt-free consumption. But these drinks have the same flavour appeal as drinks with colour. This gap between visual and taste is one of reasons that these drinks have become popular, yet these products can present a highly artificial impression too, particularly beer-related products with very low or no malt ingredients.

Both Asahi Breweries and Suntory announced that their innovations have been receiving a positive response from consumers. However, Japan’s clear-colour beverage boom may not last long, and there will be Japanese consumers who become increasingly concerned about this new beverage trend.


Japan: Brewers increasing production anticipating hot weather this summer  (

Air conditioner makers and breweries in Japan are increasing their production, anticipating extremely hot weather this summer, The Japan News reported on July 13.

The Japan Meteorological Agency expects the average temperature in the coming month to become higher than in the average year in the Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku regions.

Daikin Industries Ltd. raised this month’s production of air conditioners for sale in Japan by 10 percent from its initial plan.

Production at rival Mitsubishi Electric Corp. continues at full capacity in line with its plan to increase shipments by 10 percent in the fiscal first half ending in September from a year before.

A Daikin official said that demand temporarily slowed due to the recent heavy rain that hit western Japan but will grow if the sky clears up.

“The weather is likely to be extremely hot in the three-day weekend from Saturday, so we expect sales to rise,” said a Mitsubishi Electric official.

Kirin Brewery Co., a unit of Kirin Holdings Co., intends to increase the output of low-priced “third segment” quasi-beer products in July and August by 40 percent from a year earlier and that of overall beer products including “happoshu” low-malt beer-like beverages by 10 percent.

Asahi Breweries Ltd., a unit of Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., increased the production of canned “chuhai” spirits this month by 30 percent from its initial plan.

The number of visitors to the Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward rose 2 percent from a year before to some 15,000 between June 30, when swimming pool operations started for this summer, and Sunday, July 8.

“The visitor number is expected to rise further as the pool facilities are open every day starting Saturday,” a Toshimaen official said.


Japan: Japan's major brewers split over own-brand beers  (

Major Japanese beer companies are split over how to deal with own-brand products manufactured for such retailers as supermarkets and convenience stores, the Inquirer reported on July 2.

Own-brand products are products planned by retailers such as supermarkets and convenience stores and sold under their own brand labels. They outsource production to manufacturers. As they can cut such costs as distribution and advertisement expenses, they can sell their own-brand products for less than those of the big brands.

Kirin Brewery Co. has gone on the offensive by accepting a series of requests for manufacturing such own-brand products — known as “private brands” in Japan — but other beer firms, such as Asahi Breweries Ltd. have adopted a wait-and-see stance.

As the domestic market for beer and beer-like alcoholic beverages is shrinking, it has become more important for beer firms to cooperate with retailers. However, how to deal with own-brand beers has become a thorny issue for them, as such products are likely to compete with the manufacturers’ branded products.

In June, major supermarket chain operator Aeon Co. updated three beverages of its own-brand line-up of so-called third-segment quasi-beers, Topvalu Barreal.

The price for a 350-milliliter can remained the same at ¥84, but Aeon switched manufacturers for its quasi-beer to Kirin from a South Korean maker.

“I’ve been buying own-brand beers over the past year. If Kirin is producing it, I believe the taste will be good,” said a 42-year-old homemaker from Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, who picked up a can of Topvalu.

The newly revised Liquor Tax Law, which came into force in June 2017, is one of the reasons why the own-brand labels have become popular. Shelf prices of alcoholic beverages rose as the revised law reinforced regulations on discounting alcoholic beverages, driving price-sensitive consumers to switch to own-brand products.

According to Aeon, sales of Barreal increased about 20 percent over the past year.

Kirin also took on commissioned production of FamilyMart Co. and Lawson Inc.’s own-brand quasi-beers.

Currently, the market share of own-brand products is still small. However, as own-brand items can expect stable shipments with fewer costs, such as advertising expenses, such products are expected to improve utilization rates of factories.

Own-brand beers only carry the logos of the retailers. Sapporo Breweries Ltd. also manufactures products for Aeon, but there are no other signs of a shift toward more manufacturing of own-brand products by the majors.

“What is important is to produce products with added value — cheapness is not the only factor,” Asahi Breweries said.

“We would like to enrich our brand under the policy of being involved in the entire process, from manufacturing to sales,” said Suntory Beer Ltd., which has also adopted a wait-and-see stance.

Major firms have been cautious over own-brand products, because of their loyalty to their own product ranges. There is also a deep-rooted concern that low-price own-brand products could have an adverse effect on the major beverage brands.

Despite such concerns, Kirin started accepting the production of own-brand products. “It could bring favorable effects on the sales of our own products,” a senior official of the company said.

The market for beer and beer-like alcoholic beverages continues to shrink, with total shipments posting the 13th consecutive year-on-year decrease in 2017.

By strengthening relations with strong-performing retailers, Kirin hopes their outlets will place Kirin products in prominent parts of the store.

Observers say that in order to curb the trend of consumers moving away from beer, it is important to attract consumers to the product, irrespective of the brand.

“How beer companies deal with own-brand products may act as a litmus test for the future power structure in the industry,” an analyst said.


Japan: Change in legal definition of beer could give some boost to Japan's stagnant market  (

The legal definition of beer in Japan changed on Sunday, April 1st, and the nation’s major breweries are looking to shore up their shrinking customer bases by introducing new products with a wider variety of flavors to shake up the stagnant market, The Japan Times reported.

Under the old definition, beers need to be made from water and hops and have a malt content of 67 percent or higher. But that has now been lowered to 50 percent, marking the first change in 110 years.

Furthermore, a wide range of items have been added to the approved list of secondary ingredients, which is currently limited to grains like rice, wheat and corn. The new ingredients include fruit, spices, herbs and flowers. Seaweed, oysters and bonito flakes are also included.

The change in definition gives beer makers more flexibility to produce beer with unique tastes and aromas and enables them to officially market the finished product as beer. Under the previous definition, such low-malt beverages were called happōshu (quasi-beer), and were cheaper because they were less heavily taxed.

For consumers, the crucial question is whether prices will rise with the change.

The answer — for now — is no. The government plans to make the higher tax on beer and the lower tax on happōshu and so-called third-sector no-malt beverages the same by 2026. This will take place by reducing the levy on beer and raising the tax on happōshu and third-sector beer in stages — which will bring the three closer to each other in price.

But for now, major beer makers are trying to take advantage of the change to introduce new products and appeal to younger consumers.

“The change in the legal definition of beer is a huge opportunity to revitalize the market,” said Jin Yoshioka, a spokesman for Asahi Breweries Ltd., which plans to start marketing Asahi Gran Mild, a new beer infused with lemon grass to create a lighter and fresher flavor.

“We will be working on experimenting with the newly approved ingredients and maximizing the technology we have to create innovative flavors,” he added.

“There’s no denying the beer market in Japan is fast declining. The price wars that took place between the major beer makers factored into that decline, and the exploration of new and unique beer flavors was hindered” because companies were so focused on lowering prices, said Tetsuji Otani of Kirin Co., which plans to release a new type of Grand Kirin beer flavored with coriander seeds and orange peel.

Shipments of beer and third-sector drinks by the five major domestic breweries have been declining for the past decade or so.

In 2017, the figure fell for the 13th straight year to 404 million cases, down 2.6 percent from the previous year.

Over the years, beer has become an “old guy’s drink, unappealing to younger people, which resulted in a stagnant market,” Otani said.

“The definition change is a great opportunity to make beer more accessible to younger generations,” he said. “We want them to understand that the world of beer is full of variety and flavor.”

But some experts are not so sure it will stimulate the market.

“We’re not expecting a major change in the beer market just yet, given that the change in definition simply means that what was previously sold as low-malt beer or happōshu will be sold as regular beer,” claimed a market researcher who wished to remain anonymous.

“However, we do expect the breweries to capitalize on this change to market new products,” he said, acknowledging that whether beer makers can boost sales will depend on their marketing skills.


China: Tsingtao, China Resources Beer shares jump on inaccurate report of beer prices hike  (

Shares in Tsingtao, China’s best-known brewer internationally, jumped on January 5 following a report that it would raise prices as much as 20 per cent, even though the company dismissed it as inaccurate, the Financial Times reported.

The share price rose to 23 per cent in Hong Kong on January 5 before paring gains and closing 11 per cent higher, adding $814 mln to the company’s market capitalisation.

The surge followed a report by Beijing News that Tsingtao and other breweries had raised prices on some products by 10 to 20 per cent due to higher raw material and labour costs.

Hong Kong-listed China Resources Beer, the parent company of China Resources Snow Breweries which is China’s largest brewer by volume, rose as much as 11.8 per cent to a record high following the report.

However, Tsingtao said in a statement to the Hong Kong exchange after market close that media reports of substantial price increases were “inaccurate”. The company added that prices of some of its products would rise due to an increase in packaging costs, but not by more than 5 per cent on average.

Chinese beer companies generally specialise in cheaper brews, which they sell in large volumes. This model has come under pressure as higher incomes prompt consumers to upgrade to higher-end brands, leading to gains for foreign beer manufacturers.

Japanese brewer Asahi last month agreed to sell most of its 18 per cent stake in Tsingtao to Chinese conglomerate Fosun and its subsidiaries for $844m. Tsingtao is China’s second largest brewer and was founded in 1903 by German and British merchants. It has the highest international presence of any Chinese beer brand.


China: Tsingtao, China Resources Beer shares jump on inaccurate report of beer prices hike  (

Shares in Tsingtao, China’s best-known brewer internationally, jumped on January 5 following a report that it would raise prices as much as 20 per cent, even though the company dismissed it as inaccurate, the Financial Times reported.

The share price rose to 23 per cent in Hong Kong on January 5 before paring gains and closing 11 per cent higher, adding $814 mln to the company’s market capitalisation.

The surge followed a report by Beijing News that Tsingtao and other breweries had raised prices on some products by 10 to 20 per cent due to higher raw material and labour costs.

Hong Kong-listed China Resources Beer, the parent company of China Resources Snow Breweries which is China’s largest brewer by volume, rose as much as 11.8 per cent to a record high following the report.

However, Tsingtao said in a statement to the Hong Kong exchange after market close that media reports of substantial price increases were “inaccurate”. The company added that prices of some of its products would rise due to an increase in packaging costs, but not by more than 5 per cent on average.

Chinese beer companies generally specialise in cheaper brews, which they sell in large volumes. This model has come under pressure as higher incomes prompt consumers to upgrade to higher-end brands, leading to gains for foreign beer manufacturers.

Japanese brewer Asahi last month agreed to sell most of its 18 per cent stake in Tsingtao to Chinese conglomerate Fosun and its subsidiaries for $844m. Tsingtao is China’s second largest brewer and was founded in 1903 by German and British merchants. It has the highest international presence of any Chinese beer brand.


Japan: Japan’s beer prices expected to rise this year  (

Higher distribution costs and a labour shortage coupled with rising raw materials are going to push up beer prices in Japan this year, The Drinks Business reported on January 5.

According to a report by NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organisation, four beer makers – Asahi, Kirin, Suntory and Sapporo – will raise beer prices in bottles and kegs this February. Wholesale prices of bottled beer are expected to rise by about 10%, it added.

It is unclear at present how much prices will go up for beer in kegs.

Japan is a major beer consumption country, ranked as the 6th biggest in the world in 2016. Last year, the country relaxed its regulation on ingredients allowed in beer production to allow fruits, spices and other ingredients.

In addition to beer, prices for rice and wheat are set to be hiked up as well, with three major milling companies raising wheat prices by 1 to 4%, starting from this week.

Consumers will also have to spend more on pre-cooked rice this year. The country’s packaged food company TableMark will raise its prices by as much as 17% in February.


China: Asahi Group to begin distributing Pilsner Urquell and Peroni beer in China  (

Asahi Group Holdings will begin distributing two European beer labels under its umbrella in China by next spring as the Japanese group seeks a bigger gulp of the world's biggest market for the drink, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on November 22.

Asahi will market Czech beer brand Pilsner Urquell and Italy's Peroni mostly in Shanghai and other mainland metropolises, targeting younger drinkers who frequent upscale supermarkets and restaurant. Pricing has not been set, but Pilsner Urquell and Peroni are expected to be more expensive than Asahi's Japanese top-seller Super Dry lager, which already costs about three times as much in China as local brands.

Asahi acquired the two brands earlier this year from Anheuser-Busch InBev as part of an asset buyout in five European countries. Global industry leader AB InBev needed to divest a portion of its portfolio to secure its mega-merger with SABMiller.

Although Pilsner Urquell and Peroni are well known in Europe, they are hard to find in China. But China's thirst for premium beer is growing, even as the overall mainland beer market has shrunk from its 2013 peak. Premium beers - a price range that includes Super Dry - are forecast to hold a 13% market share in 2020, up from 6.6% in 2015, data from Euromonitor shows.

Meanwhile, Asahi confirmed last month that it is moving to dissolve its capital tie-up with China's second-ranked Tsingtao Brewery, a partnership launched in 2009. Chinese sales of Super Dry have jumped by roughly 20% by volume, and now the Japanese company aims to leverage the European brands to expand in the market on its own.


Japan: Asahi Breweries raising beer prices for the first time since 2008  (

Asahi Breweries Ltd. will raise the price of beer delivered mainly to bars and restaurants by about 10 percent in March 2018, the company’s first price hike since 2008, Asahi Shimbun reported on October 4.

The increase will apply to bottles and barrels of the flagship Asahi Super Dry and other labels sold to wholesalers. The price for beer in cans will remain unchanged.

Changes to the liquor tax law that took effect on June 1 more strictly control sales of beer and other alcoholic beverages at prices below the cost involved in retailing them, unless there is a good reason for doing so.

Asahi decided to raise the price of beer because of higher distribution costs caused by a labor shortage, company officials said.

According to the officials, the commercial beer market has been struggling in recent years because of the shrinking population and younger Japanese shifting to other alcoholic beverages.

In 2016, sales of bottled beer decreased by about 40 percent over the figure in 2008. Sales of beer barrels to commercial establishments also declined by 8 percent over the same period.


EU & Japan: Asahi Group to ramp up sales of its Super Dry beer in Europe  (

Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. will ramp up sales of its top-selling Super Dry beer in Europe with local production aided by faster integration of last year’s $11 billion purchase of brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Bloomberg reported on September 21.

Japan’s largest brewer will produce Super Dry in Padua, Italy, starting this month and sell the premium brand in Italy and the U.K. by January, President Akiyoshi Koji said in an interview on September 21. Koji had previously expected sales to begin in 2019.

Asahi sees overseas sales of Super Dry in Europe and other markets outside of China, Hong Kong and the U.S. almost doubling to 11 million cases within five years on distribution efficiencies. Koji said the brewer is also hoping to use its Super Dry brand to build a stronger presence in the U.S. as it seeks ways of expanding its sales channels there.

Asahi is reaping benefits after strengthening its foothold in the European beer market with last year’s purchase of brands that catapulted it to be among the four biggest brewers on the continent. The Japanese company has been stepping up expansion overseas as demand at home wanes and local competition with rivals like Kirin Holdings Co. intensifies.

The Padua factory that is producing Super Dry is part of the European assets acquired last year.

“I tried the beer there before production began, and the taste was the same as in Japan,” Koji, 65, said at the brewer’s headquarters in Tokyo.

The company is targeting 35 percent to 36 percent of its total operating profit to come from overseas within five to six years, up from a forecast of 31 percent for 2017. In August, Asahi raised its full-year profit forecast by 15 percent based on contributions from its European acquisitions as well as better-than-expected performance in its soft drinks and food businesses.

Asahi’s goals for Europe are ambitious and the U.K. presents the biggest opportunity for Super Dry, said Euan McLeish, a Bernstein & Co. analyst in Hong Kong. “Asahi has set some extremely bold growth targets for the European business,” he said. “Producing Super Dry in Italy is a small step in the right direction.”

Buying into Europe is part of Asahi’s plan to become a global premium beer company alongside Heineken NV and Anheuser-Busch InBev. Asahi in March completed the purchase of the beer business previously owned by SABMiller, including the popular Czech beer Pilsner Urquell. Last year, Asahi closed on a deal to buy Peroni Nastro Azzurro and other beer brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev, which took over SABMiller.

Koji said Asahi would start selling Pilsner Urquell and Peroni in Japan next year.

Asahi’s Super Dry, Japan’s first dry draft beer, was unveiled in 1987 and sold 200,000 cases in the first two weeks. In 1997, the brew was introduced in 12 European countries via imports.

Although Asahi has little presence in the U.S., Koji said he would like to find new outlets to sell Super Dry in the world’s largest economy besides Japanese restaurants, where the beer is most commonly proffered. Koji said he wants to focus on Asahi’s own premium brand rather than craft beer in the U.S. He added he believes there is room in the global market for the taste of Japanese beer.

“Growing Super Dry has the highest priority in North America for us,” Koji said.

Meanwhile, its rivals have been busy making deals in craft brews. Sapporo Holdings Ltd. agreed earlier this year to acquire Anchor Brewing Co., a century-old San Francisco brewer that helped pioneer the craft-beer movement. Kirin, Japan’s second-biggest brewer, acquired about 25 percent of closely held Brooklyn Brewery for an undisclosed sum last year.

Asahi has been shedding some assets to pay for its acquisitions. In June, the Japanese company said it’s selling its remaining stake in a joint venture with Tianjin-based Tingyi Cayman Islands Holding Corp. Asahi also hired Morgan Stanley to advise on the potential sale of its 20 percent holding in Tsingtao Brewery Co. Koji reiterated the company will decide what to do about the stake by the end of this year.


The Czech Republic: Sale of Plzeňský Prazdroj to Asahi Group questioned by Pilsen-based ...  (

... association Právovarečné měšťanstvo

The Pilsen-based association Právovarečné měšťanstvo is questioning the sale of the Czech brewery Plzeňský Prazdroj to the Japanese company Asahi Group Holdings, the news site has reported.

The group has appealed to European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestagler, asking her to suspend the sale, arguing that it has been leading a legal dispute over the ownership of part of its property. Karel Svoboda, the head of the Právovarečné měšťanstvo association, told the news site that they were very concerned about the issue.

Právovarečné měšťanstvo is demanding its property rights for the Měšťanský pivovar brewery in Pilsen, which was built by the association back in 1842 and which is today part of the Plzeňský Prazdroj company, are recognised.

Asahi Group Holdings, Japan’s biggest brewery group, has won the bidding competition to acquire the biggest Czech beer producer in December 2016.

The Group has provisionally picked up the Czech brewer as part of a package of Central European beer makers put up for sale by the multinational SABMiller. This also comprised breweries in Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia with the price tag for the job lot put at 7.3 billion euros (around 197 billion Czech crowns).

The sell-off was forced on SABMiller by the European Commission as part of the price for its takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which Brussels feared would create dominant positions and curb competition on a series of European markets while commanding around 27 percent of the world beer market.

If the Japanese offer completes the course, then Asahi Group Holdings would, according to sources, appear to have comfortably outbid a rival offer for the brewery by the richest Czech, Petr Kellner, of the PPF group in partnership with the Czech-Slovak bank J&T.

Asahi earlier picked up some of SABMiller’s assets as part of the group divestment, for example, the Italian beer brand Peroni and Dutch brand Grolsh. This was already seen by analysts as a indication that Asahi was willing to spend freely and pick up European assets as part of its worldwide expansion.

In the past, Asahi was reported as one of the potential bidders for Prague’s Staropramen brewery, the second biggest in the country, when it was put up for sale in 2012. The eventual winner of that contest was Molson Coors. Staropramen though is licensed to Asahi dry to sell on European markets, it’s one of the Japanese brewery’s biggest and best selling brands.

Asahi is reckoned to have exhausted most of the beer market possibilities on its Japanese domestic market by the late 1990s. It has since expanded into drinks, snacks, and food in Japan, and has expanded abroad through an aggressive merger and acquisition policy. It began life in 1889 after borrowing largely from German beer know-how and technology.

Plzeňský Prazdroj’s profits for last year, ending in March, rose five percent to 3.7 billion crowns with turnover climbing slightly slower to around 14.4 billion crowns. SABMiller had pinpointed Plzeňský Prazdroj to become one of its major brands worldwide, though many analysts believed that all the promotion and marketing promises were only partially fulfilled.

The Plzeň brewer has been in Japanese hands before, though these are not likely to be happy memories. Plzeňský Prazdroj’s majority owner was at one stage in the hands of the investment group Nomura, though it always openly admitted that this was never a long-term strategic investment and that it would quit once the price for getting out was right. The latest transaction should be completed by December 2017.


Japan: Asahi Group Holdings poised to catch up with peers in overseas expansion  (

Japanese brewer Asahi Group Holdings may have been slower than its peers to expand abroad, but the company is poised to catch up with a string of acquisitions in Western Europe, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on November 7.

Asahi has completed its purchase of four companies, including Italy's Peroni and Dutch brand Grolsch, from Britain's SABMiller, which was taken over by the world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev of Belgium. These units rang up about 86 billion yen ($834 million) in sales for the year ended in March. The deal raises overseas sales to about 16% of Asahi's total, up around 4 percentage points from the estimate for this fiscal year.

When President Akiyoshi Koji attended a mid-October gathering at a London hotel with representatives of the acquired companies, several asked him when they would be able to start selling Asahi's flagship Super Dry beer. "There is strong interest in Japan's beer technologies and brand marketing," Koji said.

Asahi plans to start producing and selling Super Dry in those locales as early as 2018. Though the product has barely penetrated the Italian and Dutch markets, Asahi thinks room for growth exists if it taps the premium-beer sales channels and expertise offered by Peroni and the others.

Super Dry is sold in about 70 countries. Asahi has achieved some success by marketing it as a premium beer in Asia and elsewhere. Priced 30-50% higher than regular beer, Super Dry is the top premium brand in South Korea and Hong Kong, more popular than Heineken of the Netherlands.

Though Western Europe is less promising as a growth market compared with emerging nations, the risk of getting embroiled in price competition is smaller. Premium beer makes up almost half of Italy's market, and Asahi sees Super Dry gaining some fans there.

The latest acquisition is Asahi's largest abroad. And speculation exists that the company will buy SABMiller's beer operations in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania for more than 500 billion yen. SABMiller holds the top market share in four of these five eastern European nations, and its portfolio includes Pilsner Urquell, a Czech brand popular in Europe. Though Asahi says it has no plans regarding any acquisition offer, adding these operations would boost the company's overseas business.

For Japanese brewers, strengthening overseas operations is an urgent matter amid grim growth prospects domestically due to a declining birth rate and diversification in consumers' drinking styles. Beer shipments by Japan's five largest brewers decreased 2.1% on the year in the January-September period, declining for the 12th straight year.

Asahi began looking abroad in earnest in 2009. The brewer bought the Australian beverage operations of a U.K. company for about 77 billion yen. Asahi subsequently made acquisitions mainly in the Oceania region, including a Malaysian dairy business, while taking stakes in China's Tsingtao Brewery and a major Chinese food company.

Yet the brewer trails domestic rivals in making inroads abroad. Asahi projects a sixth consecutive record annual operating profit for the year through December, but overseas operating profit before the acquisition in Western Europe was about 3% of the total, excluding companywide costs and other factors.

The company earns most of its profit from alcohol, beverages and food in Japan, and this structure has changed little in the past six years. Meanwhile, rival Kirin Holdings is on track to earn about 30% of total profit from abroad this fiscal year.

But Asahi has access to funds for a comeback abroad. Koji has said the company will tolerate a debt-to-equity ratio of about 1, noting that Asahi can increase debt to around 1 trillion yen. Based on free cash flow and cash on hand, the company can spend another 500 billion yen or so in addition to the western European deal.

Asahi also said on November 2 that it will end a capital partnership with Kagome, unloading its 10.03% stake in the company for 24.6 billion yen. The brewer is poised to sell off other assets to finance investment in growth.

The merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller gave birth to a giant with a nearly 30% global market share. Asahi stands no chance in trying to match the scale of this goliath, which is more than 10 times bigger in operating profit and market capitalization. Japan's leading brewer instead faces the test of whether it can grow Super Dry and other products that are fruits of Japanese technologies by leveraging the sales channels of newly acquired entities.


Japan & UK: Asahi announces completion of its acquisition of Miller Brands and formation of Asahi UK  (

Asahi Group Holdings, the new owner of Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Grolsch and Meantime, has announced the completion of its acquisition of Miller Brands and the formation of Asahi UK, Off Licence News reported on October 12.

The announcement coincides with the confirmation that AB InBev has successfully completed the deal to acquire SABMiller.

As part of the acquisition of SAB Miller, AB InBev was forced to sell a number of its and SAB Miller’s brands in Asia and Europe in order to meet the demands of competition regulators. Within this it offloaded a number of brands, including Grolsch and Peroni, to Asahi.

Asahi’s investment is part of Asahi Europe’s strategy to lead the development of the continent’s Super Premium Beer sector, the company said.

Gary Haigh, managing director of Asahi UK, said: “Our Super Premium Brand portfolio is powered by a seamless distribution network, expert customer marketing and sales capability – this means we can extend and grow Asahi’s ambition in the UK. Peroni Nastro Azzurro has been a key driver in the growth of the UK Super Premium sector, which is now worth £1.3 bln and accounts for more than a quarter of the London beer market. With the backing of the Asahi Group we will be able to continue our strategies for the brands, building on their success and allowing our customers to benefit from meeting the demands of UK consumers for high quality beer brands.”

Haigh reports into Hector Gorosabel, ceo of Asahi Europe. He said: “Today marks the beginning of what I am confident will become one of the world’s great beer companies. Consumers and customers are becoming ever-more discerning about the quality and provenance of the brands they choose. Asahi Europe has the brands, the agility and most importantly, the people, to deliver exceptional experiences to both.”

Asahi Europe is responsible for a range of super premium brands across the UK and Ireland, including Peroni Nastro Azzuro, Pilsner Urquell, St Stefanus and Kozel.


Japan: Asahi, Kirin to transport beer across Japan jointly next year  (

Brewery news
Asahi Breweries and Kirin Brewery will join forces next year in transporting beer across Japan by rail, a mode that is less expensive than trucks and more environmentally friendly, Nikkei Asian Review reported on July 27.

Under an arrangement to be announced on July 28, the rivals will work with Japan Freight Railway and Nippon Express to deliver beer to the Hokuriku region along the Sea of Japan coast.

Output from Asahi's Suita brewery near Osaka and Kirin's Kobe brewery will go by Nippon Express trucks to a JR Freight depot, and then by train to depots in Hokuriku. Nippon Express trucks will take over from there to deliver the products to wholesalers and other customers.

Rail shipments from the Osaka-Kobe area to Ishikawa Prefecture will begin in early 2017, with shipments to Toyama Prefecture to start as soon as that autumn.

The Asahi Group Holdings and Kirin Holdings units have no breweries in Hokuriku. Shipping beer by truck has become expensive owing to the long distances covered and driver shortages.

Rail transportation is expected to cut the cost of Hokuriku-bound shipments by a few percent. Asahi and Kirin will consider expanding the arrangement to other regions where they lack production facilities.

Many Japanese businesses in different industries are cooperating on logistics to contend with labor shortages. But this marks the first collaboration between two beer companies on inter-regional transport.

With younger Japanese less partial to beer and the overall population shrinking, beer shipments in Japan fell for an 11th straight year in 2015. As the market stagnates, reducing costs is becoming an urgent challenge for the industry. Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo Holdings unit Sapporo Breweries last year started sharing logistics sites in Tokyo.

For road vehicle drivers, the ratio of job offers to seekers has remained above 2 since July of last year. Twenty-five percent of truck drivers were 50 or older in 2001, but this had risen to 42% in 2015, according to the Railway Freight Association. With drivers increasingly old and expensive to hire, many companies are switching to rail even for medium-haul shipments.


Japan: Asahi settles dispute over non-alcohol beer with rival Suntory  (

Asahi Group Holdings Ltd said on July 20 it has settled a dispute with Suntory Holdings Ltd after Suntory accused its rival of infringing a patent for non-alcohol beer, Reuters reported.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The Tokyo District Court in October rejected a request from Suntory for an injunction to stop Asahi from selling Dry Zero beer, ruling there was no patent infringement. Suntory then appealed the decision in the Intellectual Property High Court.

Suntory has withdrawn its appeal and Asahi will continue making and selling the Dry Zero brew, Asahi said in a statement.

Japan's zero-alcohol beer segment is hotly contested as the country's overall beer market shrinks. Suntory was the top seller of no-alcohol brews in 2014, but was overtaken by Asahi last year.


Japan: Asahi launches new regional beer under the Clear Asahi brand  (

Japan’s largest beer producer, Asahi Breweries, has added a new taste to their popular Clear Asahi brand, with a release designed especially for the country’s Kansai region. Called “Kansai Shitate” or “Kansai Tailored”, the beverage has been created to suit regional dining flavors, with a focus on two of the area’s most famous saucy dishes: okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and takoyaki (fried octopus balls), Japan Today reported.

The new beer can features an image of the two local delicacies on the front of the can, along with the tagline “Kansai no shokutaku wo motto oishiku“, or “Making the Kansai dining table even more delicious”.

The limited-edition beer is produced at the company’s Suita beer plant, located in the Kansai region, and marks 125 years of operation for the factory. Plant tours reached a record 150,000 visitors last year so, as a gesture of thanks, the company worked hard to produce a beer especially suited to local tastes.

The back of the can reveals the new brew goes well with sauce-based dishes, producing a round taste that’s full of flavor when paired with local foods.

In a first for the beer group, this is a regional release, available for purchase only in the Kansai region, which includes Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Shiga, Nara and Wakayama Prefectures. Available in 350-milliliter and 500-milliliter cans, the beer has been on sale at stores throughout the area from June 21.


Japan & USA: Asahi Group Holdings pursuing deals in the US to boost distribution of its ...  (

...Super Dry beer

Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., the Japanese brewer that’s buying European brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev NV worth $2.9 billion, is now pursuing deals in the U.S. that would help boost distribution of its Super Dry beer in the world’s largest economy, Bloomberg reported on May 18.

Tokyo-based Asahi is willing to spend 400 billion yen ($3.7 billion) starting next year, which includes raising debt and 100 billion yen in cash, on further acquisitions, President Akiyoshi Koji said in an interview on May 18. The company is mainly seeking overseas investments to strengthen its alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage businesses, said Koji.

AB InBev last month accepted Asahi’s offer to buy the Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime beer brands as the European brewer seeks to win regulatory approval for the purchase of SABMiller Plc. For Asahi, completing the biggest deal in its history would help the Japanese brewer expand abroad amid falling domestic beer consumption and changing tastes.

“There’s huge potential that our Super Dry beer will gain popularity in the U.S.,” said Koji, pointing to the country’s growth in popularity of craft beers and diversified food culture. “The key is how to boost distribution power - then we can think of bringing our whisky, Shochu spirit and non-alcoholic drinks later on too.”

The Japanese brewer is aiming to boost the ratio of its overseas sales contribution to 20 percent by 2018, up from 15 percent currently, and will look to expand in both the U.S. and Europe, said Koji, 64, who was promoted to the number two job March 24 after heading Asahi’s beer unit since 2011.

The European deal may boost Asahi’s profitability and change its earnings structure, which has been heavily reliant on domestic beer sales, according to Satoshi Fujiwara, an analyst at Nomura Securities Co.

“Asahi’s heavy dependence on its beer unit has been problematic, weighing on its top-line profit,” Fujiwara said by phone. Asahi’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization margin, which excludes liquor tax, is at about 14 percent while that of the AB InBev brands it’s acquiring is about 21 percent, he said.

Asahi shares were little changed at 3,628 yen by the close of Tokyo trading on May 18. The stock has fallen 4.5 percent so far this year, compared with the benchmark Topix index’s slump of 13.5 percent.

Asahi last month reported its highest-ever first quarter sales as demand for its alcoholic beverages rose. Sales rose 1.6 percent to 380.2 billion yen in the three months ended March 2016, while net income fell 95 percent to 614 million yen. The drop in net income is due to a one-time gain related to an investment in a Chinese company booked in the same period last year, according to the company.

Recent mergers and acquisitions by Asahi, which also sells spirits and non-alcoholic beverages, include the purchase of New Zealand beverage maker Independent Liquor Ltd. in 2011. The Japanese brewer in 2009 bought a 20 percent stake in China’s Tsingtao Brewery Co. from AB InBev.

Asahi is not interested to buy a stake in Vietnam’s Saigon Beer-Alcohol Beverages, and doesn’t plan to sell its stake in the Chinese beermaker Tsingtao, despite the economic downturn in China which has hurt beer consumption, according to Koji. Shandong province-based Tsingtao reported its 2015 net income fell 13.9 percent to 1.7 billion yuan ($260 million).

“Tsingtao is striving to boost profit, so we’re supporting its effort to increase production efficiency while not having direct control over their business,” Koji said.


World: AB InBev accepts Asahi’s around $2.9 bln binding offer for Peroni, Grolsch and ...  (

... Meantime brands

Anheuser-Busch InBev N.V. accepted the around $2.9 billion binding offer from Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. for SABMiller PLC's European premium brands and their related businesses.

The brewing group, which is selling assets in the hope of getting antitrust approval for its roughly $108 billion acquisition of SABMiller, said on April 19 any deal is conditional upon AB InBev closing the SABMiller transaction.

Included in the sale to Japan's Asahi are the Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands and related businesses in Italy, the Netherlands, the U.K. and internationally.

Japan's Asahi made its offer for the brands, valued at about $2.9 billion in cash, in February. The sales are part of AB InBev's aim to secure European regulatory approval.


South Korea: Tsingtao becomes South Korea’s No. 1 import beer brand  (

The Chinese beer Tsingtao has emerged as the No. 1 import brand in South Korea at a leading supermarket chain amid the rising popularity of Chinese cuisine in the country, industry data showed on April 8.

According to the data compiled by E-Mart, Tsingtao outpaced other rivals in sales over the January-March period, pushing out traditional leaders, including the Netherlands' Heineken and Japan's Asahi.

In 2014, Heineken stood as the No. 1 player, trailed by Asahi and Belgium's Martens. At that time, Tsingtao was the fourth player.

"The rising popularity of Chinese food, including roasted lamb on skewers, helped Tsingtao gain further ground in South Korea," an E-Mart official said.

It marked the first time for the Chinese beer to take the throne since reaching the South Korean market in 2000.

Industry watchers also said restaurants that serve Chinese-style roasted lamb, which used to operate only in local Chinatowns, are expanding to other areas to reach a wider number of South Koreans. The trend eventually led to more consumers eyeing exotic beer, they added.

Separate data compiled by the state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation showed imports of Chinese beer brands in 2015 came to 11,490 tons, up 70.6 percent from a year earlier.

The amount, however, still hovered below the 31,000 tons posted by Japanese brands and the 24,847 tons held by German products.


Japan: Asahi Breweries reports 2% increase in January beer sales  (

Japan’s Asahi Breweries reported a 2% increase in its total beer sales in January with new genre beer category sales up 14%.

Regular beer volumes declined by 2% and low-malt happoshu beer sales dropped by 3% last month.

The company said its Clear Asahi brand’s total sales registered a 21.5% increase in demand last month.


World: Private equity firm KKR reportedly back in tender for Peroni, ...  (

... Grolsch beer brandsb

The line-up of bidders for SABMiller‘s Peroni and Grolsch beers has changed, with U.S. private equity firm KKR replacing Bain Capital, which was unwilling to engage in a bidding war with industry players, Thomson Reuters reported on January 27 citing three sources familiar with the matter.

KKR was not initially shortlisted as one of the final bidders for the brands being unloaded by Anheuser-Busch InBev to smooth its $100 billion-plus takeover of SAB. However, it was later readmitted to the auction after sweetening its bid, said one of the sources.

Other private equity funds including BC Partners backed away earlier in the process, which is expected to wrap up in March.

“Price expectations were pure madness,” said one of the sources, who declined to be identified as the matter is confidential.

AB InBev, the maker of Budweiser, values the brands at no less than 2.5 billion euros ($2.73 billion), said the source, noting that strategic players were well placed to outbid private equity firms, given possible synergies.

Another bidder for the package, which also includes London craft beer Meantime, is Zurich-based investment firm Jacobs Holding, the sources said.

Jacobs, which owns 50 percent of Swiss chocolate company Barry Callebaut, had no comment.

Reuters reported on Jan. 21 that four other parties made it to the final stages of bidding, namely Japan’s Asahi Group, Fraser and Neave, which is part of Thai Beverage, and European private equity firms PAI Partners and EQT.

The bidders are expected to hand in binding offers in mid-February.

AB InBev, SABMiller, KKR and Bain declined to comment.


Japan: Suntory loses patent dispute with rival Asahi Breweries  (

Suntory Holdings Ltd. lost a patent dispute with rival Asahi Breweries Ltd. on October 29, with the Tokyo District Court rejecting its demand for a halt to production and sales of Asahi’s nonalcoholic beer, The Japan Times reported.

Suntory had sought the suspension of Asahi’s Dry Zero, which was relaunched in September 2013, alleging that it infringed a Suntory patent application filed in November 2012 and approved in October 2013.

“The Suntory patent represents a technology that can be easily invented based on other products and should be considered invalid,” presiding Judge Koji Hasegawa said, endorsing Asahi’s argument.

Suntory’s All-Free and Asahi’s Dry Zero are competing for the top share in the expanding nonalcoholic beer market.


New Zealand: A 3 per cent beer price increase to be passed to customers  (

The price of beer will increase by nearly 3 per cent as New Zealand's biggest brewers try to recoup costs in a flagging market, reported businessday, March 27.

Overseas-owned breweries Lion, DB and Independent Breweries are all hiking beer prices by the end of April.

DB spokesman Simon Smith said it would increase tap and packaged beer prices by 2.8 per cent from April 13.

"We have kept this price rise to a minimum, despite tough market conditions and increased operating costs," Smith said.

Lion national sales director Danny Phillips said that from March 30, Lion was increasing its price for all pack beer by 2.8 per cent.

However, Pak 'n' Save supermarket owner Foodstuffs marketing manager Katherine Klouwens said the three breweries were putting some prices up.

Countdown spokeswoman Kate Porter said it would pass price increases on to customers.

In March 2012, DB bumped up its tap-beer price by 1 per cent. Lion increased its prices by 1.5 per cent a week later.

Lion, owned by Japanese beverage giant Kirin, produces beers including Stella Artois, Steinlager, Speights and the Mac's range.

DB, owned by Dutch brewer Heineken, produces Heineken, Double Brown, Tui and Export Gold while Independent Brewery, owned by Japanese brewer Asahi, produces Haagen, NZ Pure and the Boundary Road range.

A 2.8 per cent increase would mean a 12 pack of Heineken sold at Countdown increases from NZ$26.49 to NZ$27.23 while a pint, which costs about NZ$10.90 at a bar, would increase to NZ$11.20.

For the last three months of December, 2013, Statistics New Zealand figures showed a dozen bottles of beer was priced at an average of NZ$20.45.

Phillips said the price hike was due to operating costs to produce pack beer increasing significantly over the past few years.

Lion's income for the year to September 30 was down 8 per cent from NZ$611 million in 2013 to NZ$564 mln. Net profit for the year was down $11m to $44 mln.

Lion New Zealand spokeswoman Sara Tucker said a continuing downwards trend of the alcohol market in New Zealand had impacted Lion's income last year.

The price and volume of the total beer market declined last year, she said.

Moa chief executive Geoff Ross said the craft brewer had no plans to increase beer prices.

"We are in the craft segment of beer which is where consumers understand the value of quality and are happy to pay for it - so we haven't had to be in discount mode over previous years like the mainstream foreign owned beers," Ross said.

Statistics New Zealand figures show last year the total volume of alcoholic beverage available for consumption fell 2 per cent, to 457 million litres and the volume of beer available fell 2.3 per cent or 6.5 million litres, to 282 million litres compared with 2013.

In 1996, beer made up 81 per cent of total alcoholic beverage available for consumption.

Last year beer made up just 62 per cent, unchanged from 2013.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson said he would expect most bars and pubs to pass the price increases onto consumers.


Japan: Craft beer popularity makes major brewers invest in this segment  (

After a short-lived boom in the 1990s, craft beer is catching on once again among thirsty Japanese consumers, The Japan Times reported on January 21.

Retailer Aeon Co. started stocking up to 90 craft and imported beers at 250 stores nationwide in December last year, and sales have been strong. “More and more people have started enjoying their unique taste,” said an Aeon spokesman.

Convenience store chain Lawson Inc. last year released a limited run of products jointly developed with Yo-Ho Brewing Co., a leading craft brewer based in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, which is known for its Yona Yona Ale beer.

“The limited-run beer was more popular than expected and the company was able to reach new customers, including young people and women,” a Lawson spokesman said.

Over the past year, Lawson has doubled its craft beer portfolio to 11 brands, including domestic and imported products.

A variety of craft brands were created across the country after restrictions on breweries eased in 1994. The boom was short-lived, however, as many of the products were poor in quality.

Craft beers have started to regain attention in recent years as brewers using better technology began to lead the market.

This year, Yo-Ho Brewing will start to outsource part of its output to Kirin Brewery Co., a unit of Kirin Holdings Co., as production is unable to meet increasing demand.

Major brewers are also looking at craft beer as one of the few promising products amid a slump in the broader Japanese market for beer and beer-like brewed beverages.

Kirin Brewery plans to set up small breweries for craft beer in two locations, including one in Tokyo. Sales will start in full online and at special shops in the spring.

Sapporo Breweries Ltd., a unit of Sapporo Holdings Ltd., will establish a new company to begin craft beer production as early as this summer.

Asahi Breweries Ltd., a unit of Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., plans to sell its limited craft beer series four times a year, starting in February.


Japan: Beer-like beverages and cocktails expected to continue enjoying stable growth in demand  (

Japanese brewers will release their longest-ever line-up of canned cocktails this summer as fizzy concoctions come to the fore in efforts to offset a decade of declining beer sales, Reuters reported on July 3.
Brewers such as Kirin Holdings Co Ltd have long tried to retain drinkers by making ever-cheaper, beer-like beverages. But changing tastes among Japan's youth have seen beer drinks giving up fridge space to highballs, white-wine spritzers and pineapple-flavored rum cocktails.
These so-called Ready-to-Drink (RTD) cocktails, like the cheapest beer-like drinks, fall into a low-tax category of Japan's complex liquor tax regime and can be priced far less than traditional tipples. This has helped them become the top introduction to alcohol among 20-somethings, according to a survey from brewer Suntory Holdings Ltd.
In response to rising popularity, Suntory plans to release a record 23 canned cocktail labels from June to August versus 17 last year. Asahi Group Holdingslaunched a hot-seller in May, and Kirin announced a new range in June.
The increased choice means "this will be an important summer to further boost demand in RTDs," Suntory Managing Director Shinji Yamada said.
Demand is likely to be so strong that Suntory plans to raise output for its Strong Zero series of canned cocktails by a tenth this summer, and may increase production capacity for next summer, Yamada said.
The Ready-to-Drink market has almost doubled since 2001 whereas traditional beer sales have nearly halved, showed data from Suntory.
Sales of beer have slimmed as once-universal drinking binges among office workers go out of fashion and Japan's increasingly health-conscious youth develop a taste for drinks containing fewer calories.
Brewers have tried to stem the decline by lowering prices. By reducing the malt content, brewers created beer-like drinks which could be priced less because they qualified for lower tax rates.
In Japan, beer is taxed based on malt content. The lowest-taxed beer-like drinks - dubbed "third beer" - are made with little malt or malt alternatives. In contrast, distilled spirits such as the cocktail ingredient vodka are taxed at higher rates based on alcohol content.
Due to a peculiarity in Japan's decades-old tax regime, however, Ready-to-Drink cocktails are taxed at the same rate as third beer, provided alcohol content does not exceed 9 percent, giving the drinks the appeal of both variety and price.
Suntory's Strong Zero vodka tonic, for instance, is priced at 152 yen ($1.49) for 350ml (12 fl oz) compared with 260 yen for its The Premium Malt's beer.
This year, Ready-to-Drink sales are likely to grow 3 percent to 13 million cases compared with a 1 percent decline in beer, according to Suntory. The brewer, which controls more than a third of the market, aims for RTD growth of 3.8 percent.
On the heels of Suntory is Kirin, which is looking to grow its Ready-to-Drink business by 8.4 percent this year with the help of its new Bitters line.
Late-comer Asahi stormed the market in May in the quickest-growing category of "strong" RTDs, where alcohol content is at least 8 percent. The brewer aims to ship 2.5 million cases of a highball made with distilled drink shochu by the close of 2014.
"We sold 450,000 cases by the end of May," an Asahi spokesman said. "So we're off to a good start."


Japan: Beer shipments rise 9.5% in January  (

Japan’s shipments of beer and beerlike alcoholic drinks rose 9.5 percent in January from the previous year, logging their first increase in three months on solid sales of mainstay products spruced up by renewals, The Japan Times quoted data from five major brewers on February 13.

The pace of growth is the highest since the 13 percent logged in January 2011. Some 22.48 million cases were shipped last month, with each case equivalent to 20 633-ml bottles on a volume basis.

Two of the leaders — Asahi Breweries Ltd. and Kirin Brewery Co. — renewed key products in December. Their efforts got a lift from the unusually long New Year holidays, which coincided with a stretch of good weather that contributed to the sales surge.

By category, regular beer shipments soared 10 percent to 11.21 million cases thanks to robust demand from households and stores. Shipments of “happoshu,” a low-malt near-beer, grew 3.5 percent to 3.15 million cases, while cheap “third-category beer” gained 11.2 percent to 8.11 million cases.


Japan: Asahi Group to launch a premium version of its Super Dry beer in February  (

Asahi Group Holdings Ltd will launch a premium version of its Super Dry beer in Japan as a pickup in the economy has drinkers indulging more in upmarket brews even while overall beer consumption is at its lowest in more than two decades, Reuters reported on December 12.
Beer sales have been hit hard by the rise of ready-to-drink cocktails and other alcoholic beverages, as well as an ageing population. Premium beers have defied the trend, however, with rising sales volumes last year that accelerated this year.
Asahi's Dry Premium will launch in Japan next February at a suggested retail price about 15 percent higher than its flagship Super Dry, Japan's best-selling beer. It will initially be available only in the domestic market.
"With 'Abenomics' we have some bright signs in the economic outlook and this is spurring growth in the premium beer market," said Tsuyoshi Morita, Asahi's head of marketing.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy mix of fiscal and monetary stimulus has helped fuel a rise in share prices and luxury spending over the past year, while encouraging mass retailers to promote high-end consumer goods such as cashmere sweaters and gourmet coffee.
Rival brewer Suntory Holdings Ltd on December 12 raised its full-year estimate for growth in the premium beer market to 7 percent from a 4 percent projection at the start of the year.
That is in sharp contrast with Japan's overall beer market, the world's seventh largest, which is expected to shrink for a ninth year in a row to its smallest in at least two decades. Japan's four major breweries are predicting a 1 to 2 percent drop in industry-wide sales this year.
Figures through the end of November for volume sales by Japan's four big brewers show that the two with premium brands - Suntory Premium Malt's and Sapporo Holdings Ltd's Yebisu - have posted year-on-year increases, while the other two, Asahi and Kirin Holdings Co Ltd, have seen declines.


Japan & Malaysia: Asahi Super Dry performance in Malaysia ahead of its ...  (

... brewer’s targets

The sight of Asahi Super Dry taps is common in most bars in major cities around Malaysia today, as the brand has experienced strong double-digit growth since its launch in December 2011, The Star reported on August 16.

Carlsberg Malaysia marketing director Juliet Yap said distribution for the premium beer, under the Carlsberg umbrella has been on a steady rise, as it is positioned at pubs, clubs, hotels, hypermarkets, supermarkets and also coffee shops.

Carlsberg has an agreement with Asahi Breweries to brew and distribute the latter’s beer in Malaysia.

“Asahi Super Dry has been very well received and its volume and distribution is ahead of our target.

“The distribution channel for Asahi is quite wide and we have gained strong acceptance in Penang, Johor Baru, Kuantan, Kota Kinabalu and the Klang Valley.

“The beer has caught on among the mid to higher-income group, between the ages of 25 to 34 and it is now the fastest growing premium beer in Malaysia,” said Yap.

The flagship product, from Asahi Breweries Ltd, a leading brewery and soft drinks based in Tokyo, Japan, holds a significant share of the Japanese beer market.

Yap said after sourcing for a premium beer in Asia to add to Carlsberg’s collection of premium beers, Asahi Super Dry was deemed perfect in terms of its popularity and taste profile.

“One of the challenges in brewing Asahi Super Dry locally is meeting Asahi Breweries’ high expectation of quality because that is their No.1 priority.

“Carlsberg Malaysia, a subsidiary of the Carlsberg Group and the world’s fourth largest brewery in the world has superior brewing technology and expertise.

“We ensure that every brew which comes out from the production line is of top and consistent quality.

“We are honoured the brew masters of Asahi shared secrets of karakuchi brewing techniques (a Japanese brewing style that yields outstanding fermentation and aroma) with our local brew master, in ensuring quality and standards are observed and delivered at all times,” she said.

Yap said the companies worked closely to ensure both parties were satisfied with the results in producing a brew matching standards of Asahi Super Dry produced in Japan.

“Since the start of the commercial run, we proactively sent random samples to Japan for tasting purposes.

“This helps ensure that Asahi Super Dry brewed locally is consistent with that in Japan,” she said.

The company’s primary beer from 1957 through the late 1980s was Asahi Gold (overtaking Asahi Draft, its original formula, which remains in production).

In 1981, Asahi held 10.1% of the beer market in Japan, holding on to third place rating after Kirin (63.1%) and Sapporo (20.1%).

The market share figures from that time may have been uninspiring, but Asahi’s continued focus on improving its products would bring about spectacular growth — by 2012, its share of the Japanese beer market had vaulted to 50.6% , with Kirin settling in at 25.1% and Sapporo holding on to 13.2% of the share.

This was attributed to the launch of Asahi Super Dry in 1987, which initiated the Japanese craze for dry beer, resulting in the dramatic turnaround in business performance.

Introduced as Japan’s first karakuchi draft beer, it is well liked for its characteristic sharpness and drinkability with no bitter aftertaste.

The company’s research and development Centre developed Asahi yeast strain No. 318, which helps yield outstanding fermentation and a complex aroma to produce an elegant and sophisticated flavour that meets market demands.

The introduction of Asahi Super Dry propelled the company to greater heights, as beer drinkers took to the dry beer with much fervour, leading to Asahi commanding a lion’s share of the Japanese market.

Asahi Group public relations manager Takayuki Tanaka said the company wants to work with strong local partners in forming strategic partnerships to improve its global positioning.

“The brand is currently sold in 70 markets worldwide with South Korea as our biggest market outside of Japan,” Tanaka said.

Asahi is brewed in North America, China, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Russia, Thailand and Malaysia.

“The sales of Asahi Super Dry has seen a 10 fold increase from 2010 to 2011 and we are assured of more positive growth. We experienced an increase of 14% to 15% in global sales last year,” Tanaka said, adding that its worldwide ranking is at No 12 or 13.

In its global outreach, Asahi’s has made positive inroads in widening its network in South-East Asia. Besides its involvement with Carlsberg, Asahi Group also has a similar partnership with Thailand’s Boon Rawd Brewery, and it set up a partnership in Indonesia last year.

“We would like to continue working with Carlsberg so we can be the No. 1 premium beer in Malaysia,” Tanaka added.

Asahi brand manager Calvin Khoo said Asahi Super Dry had a strong appeal among Malaysian drinkers, both men and women.

Promotional activities, consumer campaigns and educating its target audience through lifestyle and music events has proven effective in marketing the brand.

“Although the demand has been growing and the success rate since its introduction is astounding, we are aiming for Asahi Super Dry to be the No.1 premium beer in Malaysia.

“There is still much work to be done,” he said.


Japan & South Korea: Japanese beer selling very well in South Korea  (

Japanese beer has been a hot seller in South Korea, where the popularity of sake has also been growing, thanks to a rise in the number of izakaya pubs, prompting Japanese brewers and liquor companies to boost sales campaigns in the country, The Japan News reported on July, 30.
At Pro Ganjang Gejang, a Seoul restaurant specializing in crabs, Suntory’s high-quality line “The Premium Malt’s” is proving popular. At 9,000 won (about 810 yen), a medium-sized bottle costs twice as much as a large bottle of South Korean beer. Nonetheless, Japanese beer sells very well on hot days, according to the restaurant’s management.
Some South Korean brands, such as “OB” and “Hite,” are said to be closer to what is called “daisan no biru” (third-category beer) in Japan: beerlike alcoholic drinks that are not necessarily made from malt. Under South Korean law, the amount of malt in beer must constitute at least 10 percent of the content, whereas in Japan the amount must be at least two-thirds, or about 67 percent, which may be one reason why many consumers are opting for Japanese brews.
Beer imports in South Korea from January to June this year totaled $39.51 million (about 39 billion yen), up 21 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Korea Customs Service. By country, Japan led the imported beer market, with 33.5 percent, followed by the Netherlands and Germany. Though imported beer accounts for only 3 percent to 5 percent of the South Korean market, its share has been increasing as local tastes diversify.
Asahi Breweries Ltd., the leading exporter of beer to South Korea, has been pushing sales of its “Super Dry” line to restaurants and bars in the country. Sapporo Breweries Ltd. has been using Hokkaido’s cold weather and natural splendor as part of its image, while Kirin Brewery Co. started selling its “Ichiban Shibori Furozun”--beer with frozen foam--in South Korea from June and promoting the Japanese way of drinking it.


Japan: Asahi and Orion develop new “third-category” quasi-beer  (

Asahi Breweries Ltd. and Orion Breweries Ltd. have jointly developed a “third-category” quasi-beer, The Japan Times reported last week.

The product, Asahi Orion Okinawa Dayori, was launched on July, 23 throughout Japan except in Okinawa, where Orion is based, and in the Amami region of Kagoshima.

Only 50,000 cases of the sparkling low-malt beverage will be sold. Each contains the equivalent of 20 633-milliliter bottles.

The quasi-beer is being produced at Orion’s plant in Nago and the marketing is being handled by Asahi. The beverage combines the light taste of Orion’s beers with a clear flavor developed using Asahi’s brewing technology, the two companies said.

The price will likely be set at around ¥140 per 350-milliliter can.

Asahi and Orion formed a partnership in 2002. Asahi has a stake of about 10 percent in Orion.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Orion official Masakazu Miyazato said more joint products were in the pipeline with Asahi.


Japan: Asahi Breweries sales decline by 3.6% in January – March  (

Asahi Breweries, Japan’s largest beer maker, said earlier this week its January – March beer sales fell by 3.6% to 30.466 mln cases.
Sales of ordinary beer declined by 9.3%, low malt happoshu beer volumes dropped by 2.1%, whereas new genre malt-based beer sales grew by 12.5%.
The Style Free brand was Asahi’s only brand to see an increase in demand in January – March: up 2.1% as compared to the same period in 2011. All other company brands sales shrunk.


Japan: Asahi Breweries announces the first premium edition of its core Super Dry beer  (

Asahi Breweries Ltd. announced on April, 3 that it will begin selling the first premium edition of its core Super Dry beer on June 11, The Nikkei reports.
The new beer will be sold exclusively as a gift set in response to rising demand for packages featuring premium brews. Asahi also expects the move to boost sales of its Super Dry line, which holds the largest share in the beer segment.
The new offering uses domestic golden malt for a full-bodied malt extract, creating a rich flavor that is free of tartness and bitterness, according to the firm. The packaging also features a gold color scheme to give it a refined look. Asahi plans to increase 2013 summer gift blitz beer sales volume by 2% over last year.
The price for a 12-pack of 350ml cans is expected to be 3,000 yen excluding tax.


Japan: Asahi Breweries beer sales up 1% in the first two months of this year  (

Asahi Breweries, Japan’s largest beer maker, said earlier this week its January – February beer sales increased by 1% this year, though in February alone the volumes dropped by 1%.

All categories saw modest increases in volumes in the first two months of 2013. In February, however, ordinary beer sales increased by 1%, low malt happoshu beer volumes were flat and new genre malt-based beer sales declined by 6%.

The Style Free brand saw the largest increase in demand in January – February: up 9.2% as compared to the same period a year ago.


Japan & the Philippines: Asahi Group and Asia Brewery sign partnership deal in the Philippines  (

Asia Brewery Inc. (ABI), owned by tycoon Lucio Tan, is partnering with Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. to exclusively distribute the Asahi Super Dry beer in the Philippines, The Philippine Star reported on January, 27.

The companies target to develop the premium beer category in the P60-billion local beer market, officials said.

“This is a strategic partnership to elevate the level of premium beer in the Philippines,” said Joseph Cruel, assistant vice-president for business development of ABI.

“The premium beer market in the Philippines is quite small, just 0.1 percent of the total beer market,” added Hubert Tan, vice-president for marketing of ABI, noting that the total beer market in the Philippines is at only 200 million cases.

This pales in comparison with Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, whose premium beer segment accounts for five to seven percent of total beer sales, Tan said.

Under the partnership, ABI will be the first exclusive distributor of Asahi Super Dry in the Philippines, which has been sold in the country since the 1990s through importation.

ABI targets to be the top player in the premium beer market currently controlled by the San Miguel Super Dry brand, Tan said.

“This is the first time we are attempting to build this market with a foreign partner,” Tan said.

Akira Tsuiki, international business section manager of Asahi Group, said the company stands to benefit from the strong distribution network of ABI.

ABI, the company behind alcoholic brands Beer na Beer, Colt 45, Tanduay Ice, Coors Light and Manila Beer, controls nine percent of the local beer market. It is also into non-alcoholic beverages such as Cobra energy drink, Absolute mineral water, Virgin Cola and Vitamilk.

“The market is basically the A and B market, which comprises two to three percent of the beer market’s consumption,” Tan said, adding that as sales volumes grow significantly, the company can use its brewery facilities to produce Asahi Super Dry locally.

The partnership will be in a long term basis, said Jorge Sevilla, senior vice-president for sales and marketing of ABI.

Takayuki Tanaka, manager for public relations of Asahi Group, said now is a good time to tap the Philippine market given favorable economic conditions.

Amid the implementation of the higher taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, ABI is still confident of growing demand.

“In terms of the impact (of higher taxes) in the beer market, we do not feel that it will be as strong compared to the hard liquor or cigarette. We are still quite bullish in the beer market,” Tan said.

Moving forward, ABI is looking at a deeper partnership with Asahi Group.

“This is perhaps a first step to something bigger,” Tan said, adding that ABI is hoping that its products like Tanduay Ice can be distributed by Asahi Group in Japan.

ABI also wants to sell the recently launched Coco Fresh in Japan and Korea, Tan said.

In December, LT Group Inc. (formerly Tanduay Holdings Inc.) acquired shares in ABI, bringing its total shareholdings to 99.99 percent from 90 percent. The acquisition is part of the consolidation of Lucio Tan’s various businesses under LT Group.

The reorganized company, which will become Tan’s listed flagship firm, will own shares in tobacco giant PMTFC Inc., Philippine National Bank, Eton Philippines Philippines Inc., Tanduay and ABI.

The consolidation aligns all Tan assets under one roof, allowing the group to leverage emerging opportunities in different sectors and provide better realization of value for investors.


Japan: Japan’s craft brewers reinterpreting American and European beer styles  (

Beer is Japan’s most popular alcoholic beverage, and three brands dominate the market: Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo, all German-inspired lagers introduced in the late 19th century. But smaller producers are generating an interest in ji-biru, or Japanese craft beer, The Washington Post reported on December, 26.

Japanese brewers are reinterpreting American and European beer styles, adding their own balance and refinement, and sometimes local ingredients, including rice and sweet potatoes.

A few artisanal breweries paved the way for a more vibrant scene, including the Kiuchi Brewery, whose Hitachino Nest beers have become the best-known ji-biru in the United States. Riffs on American pale ales and Belgian styles have become common.

Especially widespread are straightforward versions of foreign styles with nuances considered distinctly Japanese.

“Even though they have IPAs and a huge variety of styles, these beers don’t often have the aggressive flavor profiles that you find in a lot of American craft beers,” said Izakaya Seki’s Cizuka Seki, who offers about a dozen varieties.

The beers tend to be expensive. For the curious, a good one to try is Hitachino Nest White Ale, a Belgian-style wheat beer with notes of orange, nutmeg and Riesling-like fruitiness. Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale contains 25 percent rice and is fermented with both sake and ale yeasts, resulting in a hard-to-categorize amber beer that smells like strawberries and tastes like caramel, apples and prunes.


Japan: Sapporo Breweries to launch new beer in collaboration with Seven-Eleven Japan Co.  (

Japan’s convenience store chains are increasingly tying up with food and beverage manufacturers to introduce private brand (PB) products amid consumers' craving for low-price goods and the growing presence of convenience stores with a strong selling capacity, The Mainichi Daily News reported on November, 22.

"We will ultimately aim to have the product overtake Asahi Brewery Ltd.'s Super Dry draft beer in sales volume," Yasushi Kamata, managing executive director of Seven-Eleven Japan Co., said on Nov. 19, referring to the chain's new PB beer, "Seven Premium 100 percent Malt," provided by Sapporo Breweries Ltd.

Hitting the store shelves on Nov. 27, the beer will be the first product to be provided by Sapporo Breweries specifically to Seven-Eleven. The move has sent shockwaves through the industry as breweries usually take great pride in their own exclusive brands.

Seven-Eleven leads the pack of major convenience stores in enhancing PB products. Its signature "Seven Premium" products first hit the shelves in August 2007, with seasoning spices and five other items. Today, the number of PB items sold at the chain totals some 800 items and accounts for some 30 percent of all items. The ratio of PB items to overall sales has soared from 1.8 percent in fiscal 2008 to 7.1 percent in fiscal 2011.

Lawson Inc. also introduced a range of PB items called "Lawson Select" in July 2010 and they now total 300, while FamilyMart Co. started selling "FamilyMart Collection" items at the end of October this year, with a scheduled offer of 500 items by the end of fiscal 2012.

The range of PB items has also diversified and includes more luxurious products. Seven-Eleven's "Seven Gold" series items, including high-end retort beef curry (348 yen), are each around 200 yen more expensive than conventional PB items, but "have gained support from consumers for their taste comparable to that of specialized restaurants," according to the company's public relations representative. FamilyMart also enjoys increased popularity of its high-end PB ice cream, priced at 250 yen, whose sales have beaten those of a popular name-brand.

Behind the phenomenon lies the heightened presence of convenience store chains amid dwindling sales at department stores and supermarkets. Gaining demand among women and the elderly, the sales of major convenience store chains last year shot up by 6.1 percent from a year earlier.

Quite a few manufacturers are also seeking to undertake production of PB items, with one food maker official saying, "Although the markup becomes slimmer, we can operate our factories if we produce PB items." A senior convenience store chain official testifies that manufacturers ranked in third or fourth place in the industry are more aggressive in undertaking PB products than top makers because the former makers have weaker presence at stores on their own.

"The more PB progresses, the more likely that only the top makers can survive, possibly leading to further industry realignment," said Takeshi Nishida, senior managing consultant at Fujitsu Research Institute, who is versed in PB issues.


Japan: Asahi’s total beer sales down 3% in the first nine months of this year  (

Japan’s Asahi Breweries said earlier this week that it’s total beer sales dropped by 3% in January-September this year - to 119.839 mln cases versus 123.603 mln in the same period in 2011.

All beer categories – conventional, low-malt happoshu, and third-genre beer – saw a decline in demand over the reporting period, with sales of happoshu declining most (-9.6%).

Only Style Free of Asahi’s brands enjoyed a 1% increase in January-September sales, the company said.


Japan: July beer shipments decline 9.3%  (

Japan’s beer and quasi-beer shipments in July dropped 9.3 percent from a year before to about 43 million cases, the lowest ever for the month, data from major brewers showed on August, 10.

The weak shipments came as the rainy season ended later than usual and bad weather continued until mid-July.

Beer shipments fell 10.1 percent to about 22.66 million cases, while shipments of happoshu low-malt quasi-beer were down 15 percent at about 5.84 million cases, Daily Yomiuri reported.

Shipments of so-called third-segment beverages, which have little or no malt content, declined 5.5 percent to about 14.47 million cases.

Each case contains the equivalent of 20 633-milliliter bottles.

Following the slump in July, typically the busiest month for brewers, Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., Kirin Holdings Co. and Sapporo Holdings Ltd. announced in August downward revisions to their annual sales forecasts.

But Suntory Holdings Ltd. left its sales target unchanged, thanks to brisk sales of The Premium Malt's beer.


Japan: Asahi’s beer sales drop 2% in January – July  (

Asahi Breweries, Japan’s largest beer maker, reported a 2% decline in domestic beer shipments in January – July 2012. Sales in July alone fell 12%.

During the first seven months of this year, Asahi’s sales of ordinary beer increased by 1%, however, those of low-malt happoshu beer and new genre malt-based beer dropped by 11% and 5% respectively.

Asahi’s Super Dry brand was the only one to see an increase in demand in January – July: plus 0.5% as compared to the same period last year.


Japan: The two largest brewers preparing for summer heat  (

Japan's notorious summer heat is on its way, and beer giants Kirin Brewery Co. and Asahi Breweries Ltd. are gearing up to make the sweaty season a momentous battle of cool beer, The Mainichi Daily News reported on May, 25.

Asahi had the head start in the sub-zero beer brouhaha when it began offering freezing Asahi Super Dry beer through restaurants in summer 2010, and will be increasing the number of outlets this year. Kirin will get into the act this year, offering a technique to make mugs of its Ichiban Shibori brand into -5 degree Celsius beer slushies with frozen foam heads.

Both companies are surely hoping to be crowned king of cool this summer, but are also hoping the frozen beer push will revive lagging beer sales.

Like Asahi's offering, Kirin's beer slushies will be available in restaurants and bars, and the firm began a broad deployment of the machines that make them on May 17. The ice granules in the slushy are very fine, and mixed with the air also blended into the beer, the beverage goes down very smooth and easy. What's more, the frozen head acts as a kind of lid, keeping the beer icy for about 30 minutes, and the company eventually plans to have 1,000 special foam cap-making servers nationwide.

Kirin began a test run of the technique in March this year, providing one of the slushy machines to a restaurant in Hanshin Koshien Stadium, home of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team. March to mid-May beer sales at the eatery apparently doubled from the same period last year.

Asahi, meanwhile, will continue offering "Extra Gold" Super Dry -- the firm's flagship beer served at -2 to 0 degrees -- through restaurants.

"Beer served at below freezing has a sharp, dry taste and makes for a more satisfying drink," the company's public relations department says. By the end of April this year, Asahi had 1,965 Extra Gold servers across Japan, and the company is aiming to bump that to 3,000 by the end of the year.

Furthermore, "Extra Gold Bars" open from May through September will appear in business districts in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. Asahi opened three such bars last year, which saw a total of more than 130,000 customers cross their thresholds. This year, too, the bars are already welcoming long lines of office workers looking for a cold one on the way home. With new tables that help keep the beers on them frigid, Asahi expects about 150,000 patrons this summer.

Pressured by so-called "third-category" beer-like drinks - which are cheaper than the genuine article - beer shipments dropped 4.1 percent in 2011 from the year before to 2.79 million kiloliters - less than 40 percent of the 1994 peak in beer consumption.

According to an Asahi Breweries survey, some 60 percent of beer drinkers in their 20s said that suds served at 0 degrees tasted better than the same drink served at 10 degrees. Meanwhile, less than half of respondents in older age brackets agreed, and the firm hopes its sub-zero suds PR campaign will help boost beer sales among younger consumers, who have led the recent flight from the eternal tall, cold one.


Japan: Asahi Group considering purchase of beverage maker Calpis Co.  (

Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., Japan’s largest beer maker, is considering acquiring Japanese beverage maker Calpis Co. from Ajinomoto Co. in the latest realignment move in the domestic beverage sector, Dow Jones reported on April, 27.

Asahi said in a statement that "we are considering such a case although nothing specifically has been decided." Separately, Ajinomoto said "we and Asahi are studying a transaction of Calpis shares," adding that it will disclose details as and when necessary.

The move comes as major Japanese drinks companies are on the prowl for mergers and acquisitions both at home and overseas as they contend with saturated domestic demand due to a shrinking customer base and a weak economy.

While embarking on a major offensive to extend their global reach, companies in the Japanese food and beverage sectors are also moving to strengthen their positions in their home market.

In 2011, Sapporo Holdings Ltd. merged with unlisted domestic soft drink company Pokka Corp. in a deal valued at Y21.3 billion.

Last year, Asahi made a slew of outbound M&A moves, including a deal to buy New Zealand's Independent Liquor for $1.3 billion.

But Asahi is also strengthening its M&A hunt in Japan, focusing on domestic food and beverage companies. In 2010, Asahi bought House Foods Corp.'s mineral water business for Y5.3 billion.

Earlier on April, 27, the Nikkei said Asahi had begun final negotiations to buy Calpis for up to Y100 billion, in what will likely be the biggest deal yet in Japan's soft-drinks market.

Asahi currently ranks fourth in the domestic soft-drinks market with a 9.9% share. The purchase of Calpis would bring it into third spot with 12.4%, the report said.

Asahi and Calpis have already launched a joint venture to team up in the area of soft drink vending machine operations.

In 2007, Ajinomoto made Calpis a wholly owned subsidiary through a share swap to expand its beverage business in Japan and overseas, in a deal that valued Calpis at Y109.97 billion, compared with the market capitalization of Y87.10 billion when the deal was announced. Ajinomoto first bought a 20% stake in Calpis in 1990 for Y20 billion.

"The prospective deal does make some sense but looks pricey, and the firm may be better off spending the cash overseas," said Nigel Muston, an analyst at CLSA, noting that on paper the acquisition would add just 4% to the firm's operating profit. "The domestic beverage industry remains very fragmented, and while we have seen some signs of consolidation of late, there is a ton of room for more, and without it, there is no reasonable chance that the industry as a whole will ever see better margins."


South Korea: Imported premium beer sales up 11% in 2011  (

Sales of imported premium beer are on the rise with a growing number of young consumers preferring foreign beers to domestic brands, prompting Korean brewers to pump up imports of Japanese brands, The Korea Herald reported on February, 28.

About 45 million litres of imported beer was sold in Korea last year, up 11 percent from a year ago.

Japanese beer was the most popular with 18,252 tons worth $12.35 million sold, followed by Dutch (9,509 tons worth $10.92 million) and American (5,601 tons worth $8.82 million), according to statistics from the Korea Customs Service.

Imported beer still accounts for only about 4 percent of the annual Korean beer demand which amounts to 3.5 trillion won. The share of imported beer used to be in the 3 percent range two to three years ago, but is now nearing 5 percent.

According to the nation’s largest supermarket chain E-Mart, sales of imported beer in the first month and half of this year jumped 56.2 percent from a year ago, while sales of most other booze dropped.

Only sales of imported beer gained in the same period at third largest retail outlet Lotte Mart as well.

Market watchers said Korean retailers are increasing imports of European beers as the Seoul-Brussels free trade agreement phases out tariffs on European beers within seven years. The FTA took effect on July 1 last year.

E-Mart, which sells 200 types of imported beer including Tibetan and Brazilian brands, increased the volume of beers in its imported beer corner this year.

Imports of Japanese beer have soared most.

Japan’s Asahi has the biggest share ― 30 percent ― of the imported beer market, which excludes foreign beers that are produced in Korea, such as Budweiser and Hoegarden. Asahi beat Heineken, which had kept the No. 1 spot for years, for the first time last year.

Sales of Asahi surged 20 percent from 2010 to some 12.6 million litres last year, which translates into more than 100 billion won in revenue.

Lotte began importing Asahi in 2000. Starting with sales in hotels, Japanese restaurants and clubs, Asahi expanded into supermarkets and convenience stores, showing an annual average sales growth of 48 percent between 2005 and 2011.

“We aim at a 20 percent growth to sales of 1.5 million boxes this year through an aggressive sales promotion policy,” a Lotte Asahi Co. official said.

The company plans to increase the number of bars that sell Asahi draft beer from last year’s 500 to 4,000 this year.

As Asahi, which takes up more than 90 percent of the Japanese beer sales in Korea, is produced in China, it tastes fresher than beer imported from further away, according to industry watchers.

They attribute Asahi’s success also to Koreans’ preference for Japanese companies’ brewing methods and Lotte’s distribution power.

With the demand for Japanese beer expected to keep growing, other Korean companies have jumped into the import business.

Oriental Brewery Co. has imported Suntory Premium Malts of Japan’s third largest brewer Suntory since late 2010.

Hiscot Co., a subsidiary of Hite-Jinro Group, has imported Kirin’s premium bottled beer Ichiban Shibori since 2004, and added canned beer and draft beer to its import list this year. Hite-Jinro is reviewing domestic production of Kirin beers through a technological partnership.

Maeil Dairies Co. began sales of Sapporo beers last year through a subsidiary named M’s Beverage Co. To reinforce the sales of Sapporo premium beers in Korea, Sapporo International Inc. acquired a 15-percent stake in M’s Beverage last month.

Maeil is also reportedly seeking to import Yebisu, Sapporo’s premium beer brand.

Korean breweries are taking steps to expand the sales of imported premium beer in a bid to improve profitability, as it is easier to raise the prices of imported booze compared to domestic beverages, market analysts say.

The decades-old rivalry between Oriental Brewery and Hite, which acquired soju maker Jinro in 2005, is expected to enter a new stage when Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co. builds a beer factory by 2017.

The beverage arm of Lotte signed a preliminary agreement with the municipal government of Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, last month to build a brewery with an annual beer production capacity of 500 million litres in the city’s new industrial park from 2015 to 2017.


Japan: Kirin warns Asahi’s new alcohol-free beer label design resembling too much the regular Super  (

Kirin Brewery Co. President Koichi Matsuzawa voiced concern on Jan. 11 that the label design for a new alcohol-free beer by rival Asahi Breweries resembles that of Asahi's flagship regular beer so much that people could pick up and drink the new product by mistake, Mainichi Daily News reports.

Asahi announced on Jan. 10 that it would release the alcohol-free "Dry Zero" in February. The new product's label design resembles that of "Super Dry," Asahi's best-selling regular beer.

Matsuzawa said at a news conference on Jan. 11, "Its outward appearance resembles Super Dry so much so that it could lead people to buy it by mistake." The Japanese word "Non-alcohol" is printed in a large font on Dry Zero's silvered aluminum can, but the Asahi logo is printed in the center of the design in such a way that could prompt people to associate the new alcohol-free product with "Super Dry." Asahi said, however, that its new product is different from "Super Dry."

Kirin and Asahi are longtime competitors for top spot in the Japanese beer market. Matsuzawa's comment could be taken as a veiled threat to Asahi, which is keen to expand its share of the non-alcohol beer sector.


Japan & Malaysia: Asahi Group licenses Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia to produce and sell ...  (

... Asahi Super Dry beer

Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. said earlier this week that it has licensed Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Berhad to produce and sell the Asahi Super Dry brand of beer in Malaysia.

Malaysia is the seventh foreign country where Asahi Super Dry beer is produced, following countries including China and Britain.

Since July 2010, Asahi has sold Super Dry beer in Malaysia through a unit of Carlsberg Malaysia.


New Zealand: Japan’s Asahi challenging the duopoly in tap beer market  (

For the time since the emergence of only two major domestic brewing groups, Japanese drinks company Asahi is challenging the duopoly in New Zealand’s high-margin tap beer market, The National Business Review reported on November, 16.

It is valued at about NZ$900 million and has never before been challenged by a serious third player.

But Asahi’s NZ$1.525 billion September takeover of Independent Liquor, mainly known as a RTD mixed drinks maker, has changed that.

Until now, Independent has supplied a range of local and international brands to liquor store outlets. It had kept out of the on-premise retail tap market because most outlets were tied up by the duopoly of Lion and DB Breweries.

Cost of installation is high and the breweries pay this up-front for pub and bar owners. But with it comes pricing dictated by the brewers.

Independent Liquor chief executive Julian Davidson aims to give owners an alternative with pricing 70-80% below existing levels.

“By entering this market we aim to provide the channel more value, choice and flexibility than they are currently accustomed to,” he says.

“On premise operators we have spoken to have welcomed the competition and we already have strong on premise demand committed to serving our beer.”

Customer service surveying by Coalface Consulting shows Independent has improved its rating from ninth in 2009 to third this year, while DN has dropped to seventh. Lion is in top place.

Independent has rebranded its beer operation as Boundary Road Brewery, which will supply kegs of international premium brands such as Carlsberg and Kingfisher along with NZ Pure, its craft range and Wild Buck New Zealand Ale.

Independent says its two brands in its recently launched craft range are outselling Monteith’s at Foodstuffs.

Davidson says the tap beer move has the backing of Asahi and Boundary has formed a sales and marketing team to work specifically on building sales.

Boundary has already taken delivery of a Krones keg line and the first kegs are set to leave the brewery in early December.


Japan: Asahi Breweries to revive its very first beer  (

Japan’s leading brewer Asahi Breweries Ltd. will revive its very first beer - a brew made in 1892 - for a limited period, the beer maker announced on October, 14.
Using the original recipe, Asahi will brew the beer it says is slightly darker and more bitter than its mainstay Super Dry brand.
The classic beer will go on sale from Nov. 29. A 350-milliliter can is expected to retail for about 215 yen, and a 500-milliliter can about 280 yen.
Asahi will make the equivalent of 150,000 20-bottle cases of the retro brew.


Japan: Asahi and Kirin’s new joint distribution partnership to reduce costs by several hundred milli  (

Asahi Breweries Ltd. and Kirin Holdings Co. will jointly distribute some beverages in Tokyo to cut costs and emissions at the nation’s two largest beer makers, Bloomberg reported on June, 30.
The joint deliveries using light-duty trucks in six of Tokyo’s 23 wards will begin from Aug. 29 and will be expanded at the end of October, according to a statement from the companies. Asahi and Kirin will also jointly collect containers such as bins and kegs in some areas of the country, they said.
Asahi and Kirin are looking to lower expenses as a shrinking population saps demand for beer in Japan. The partnership will reduce costs by several hundred million yen, or several million dollars, Asahi Breweries Executive Vice President Kazuo Motoyama said. The main purpose is to help the environment by reducing carbon emissions, he said.
Shipments of regular, low-malt and alternative beers fell 1.3 percent in the first five months of this year, according to data provided by the two Tokyo-based companies. Brewery sales have declined by about 20 percent since a 1994 peak, the data showed.


Japan: Asahi puts off closing its Nishinomiya brewery  (

Asahi Breweries Ltd. will put off closing its Nishinomiya plant by one year to the end of August 2012 since power shortages at Tohoku and Kanto facilities will hamper efforts to raise output, The Nikkei reported on May, 28.

The Nishinomiya brewery in Hyogo Prefecture churned out around 23.1 million cases of beer and similar drinks in 2010, accounting for roughly 13% of total output. Asahi unveiled last September a plan to shutter the plant this coming August due to aging equipment and a shrinking domestic market. It had planned on concentrating output at its Suita facility in Osaka Prefecture.

But worries about power shortages are even spreading west of central Japan now that Chubu Electric Power Co. has shut its Hamaoka nuclear plant in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi facility. Asahi decided to postpone the plant closure because of concerns about product shortages at the end of the year, the second-biggest demand period behind summer.


Japan: Asahi’s beer sales drop 1% in January – April 2011  (

Japan’s Asahi Breweries said on May, 17 its total domestic beer sales declined by 1% in January - April 2011 as compared to the same period last year.
Sales of ordinary beer fell by 1%, whereas those of low-malt ‘happoshu’ beer declined by 13% and demand for malt-based new genre beer increased by 6%.
Clear Asahi was the most popular brand of Asahi’s in the first four months of this year, achieving a 16.9% increase in sales versus the same period in 2010. Sales of Asahi Off grew by 4.7%, sales of Super Dry dropped by 0.5% and those of Style Free grew by 4.4s%, the company said.


Japan: Asahi’s beer sales up 3% in January - February 2011  (

Japan’s Asahi Breweries said on March, 10 its total domestic beer sales increased by 5% in February and by 3% in the first two months of this year.
The company’s sales of normal beer remained flat in February (as compared to February 2010) and increased by 1% in the January – February period.
Sales of new-genre malt-based beer increased by 33% last month and by 21% in January – February, whereas low-malt happoshu beer saw a 15% and a 12% decrease in demand respectively.
Clear Asahi was the most popular brand of Asahi’s last month, achieving a 15.4% increase in sales versus February 2010. Sales of Asahi Off grew by 13%, sales of Super Dry and Style Free remained flat, the company said. During the January – February period, all the four brands increased in demand, it is reported.


Japan: Asahi’s beer sales up 1% in January 2011  (

Japan’s Asahi Breweries said on February, 14 its total domestic beer sales increased by 1% January 2011.
The company’s sales of normal beer and new-genre malt-based beer both increased by 2%, whereas low-malt happoshu beer saw a 7% decrease in demand in the first month of this year.
Asahi Off was the most popular brand of Asahi’s last month, achieving a 30.8% increase in sales versus January 2010. Sales of Style Free grew by 9.1%, sales of Super Dry and Clear Asahi increased by 3.3% and 2.2% respectively.


Japan: Low-malt happoshu beer in disgrace with both consumers and brewers   (

Three of Japan’s major beer breweries plan to greatly reduce their business in happoshu low-malt beers, which have been flogged in the marketplace by less expensive "third-category" beer-like drinks, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported on January, 18.
Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. will in principle discontinue developing new happoshu products, only making exceptions for specific regional and seasonal products, sources said.
Asahi Breweries Ltd. will reduce its happoshu production capacity by about 20 percent and shrink its happoshu sales division.
Happoshu contains a lower percentage of malt than regular beer, which contributed to their having a lower rate of alcohol tax. The first happoshu product was Suntory's Hops Nama, which was released in 1994. Other breweries followed with similar products.
With a 350-milliliter can of happoshu costing more than 40 yen less than regular beer, sales increased rapidly and in 2003 accounted for about 40 percent of the market for beer and beer-like drinks.
However, consumers became less enthusiastic about happoshu as its alcohol tax was increased twice, and after third-category beer - which uses little or no malt and is about 20 yen cheaper than happoshu for a 350-milliliter can - was put on sale.
Happoshu's market share dropped to 17 percent in 2010.
The three companies will continue to produce existing happoshu products, according to the sources.
Meanwhile, Kirin Brewery Co., producer of the still-popular Tanrei happoshu brand, will continue to be active in the business, according to a Kirin spokesman.


Japan: Asahi’s beer sales up in November, new genre beer grows by 21%   (

Japan’s Asahi Breweries said on December, 12 its total domestic beer sales decreased by 2.4% to 1,924,555 kl in January - November 2010. In November alone, however, beer sales increased by 5.9% to 177,205 kl.
Low-malt happoshu beer saw the biggest decrease in demand – minus 5.8% last month and minus 26.5% in January - November this year. Sales of ordinary beer grew by 4.7% last month but dropped 3.2% in January – November, whereas new genre malt-based beer enjoyed a 17.2% growth last month and a 21% growth in the first eleven months of 2010.
Sales of Clear Asahi increased by 17.4% last month and by 11.6% in the January – November period of 2010. Sales of Style Free increased by 9.3% last month, Super Dry - by 1.2% as compared to the same month in 2009, and sales of Asahi Off grew by 22%. Super Dry, Asahi Off and Style Free all registered lower sales in January – November.


Japan: Asahi’s beer sales continue falling in January – October this year   (

Japan’s Asahi Breweries said on November, 11 its total domestic beer sales decreased by 3.1% to 1,747,350 kl in January - October 2010. In October alone, beer sales dropped by 7.6% to 160,501 kl.
Low-malt happoshu beer saw the biggest decrease in demand – minus 19.4% in October and minus 28.1% in January - October this year. Sales of ordinary beer fell by 8.8% last month and by 3.9% in January – October this year, whereas new genre malt-based beer enjoyed a 4.4% growth last month and a 21.4% growth in the first ten months of 2010.
Sales of Clear Asahi increased by 13.0% both in October and by 11.1% in the January – October period of 2010. Sales of Style Free declined by 4.9% last month, Super Dry - by 8.4% as compared to the same month in 2009, and sales of Asahi Off grew by 7.3%. Super Dry and Style Free registered lower sales in January – October, whereas Asahi Off saw a 57.7% increase in demand during the reporting period.


Australia: Foster’s CFO resigns amid beer and wine businesses demerger   (

Australia's Foster’s Group has been hit by the resignation of its finance director in the midst of the demerger of its wine and beer businesses.
Angus McKay will leave towards the end of this year to join Asciano, the Australian ports and rail operator, as chief financial officer, Foster’s announced on September, 2.
His resignation comes as suitors including London-listed SABMiller and Japan's Asahi Breweries are among those eyeing a potential bid for Foster's brewing division.
Foster's plans to demerge into two companies in the first half of 2011, a process likely to be disrupted by Mr McKay's decision.
"His experience and business acumen will be missed at a time when the group is going through a complex demerger," said Paul van Meurs, an analyst at Deutsche Bank.
Mr McKay became Foster's chief financial officer in January 2008 after joining the group four years earlier.
The company's share price was down 1 cent at A$6.10. It has risen 18.4pc since plans for the demerger were revealed.
Foster's said a search for a successor to Mr McKay had already begun.


Australia: Foster's and Asahi extend Australian partnership   (

Carlton & United Breweries and Asahi Breweries Ltd, brewer of Japan’s leading exported beer, Asahi Super Dry, today extended a long term exclusive license to sell and market Asahi Super Dry in Australia, Foster's Group announced on August 16.
“We have a longstanding relationship with Carlton & United Breweries and we’re delighted it is set to continue,” Mr Naoki Izumiya, Asahi Breweries Ltd President & Chief Operating Officer, said. “We are extremely pleased with Asahi Super Dry’s performance in Australia and are confident Carlton & United Breweries will continue to position the brand for future growth.”
Since 1992, Asahi has been one of Australia’s favourite premium imported beers. Under this new agreement, the brand is positioned for rapid growth in coming years.
“Asahi continues to be a leading brand in the Carlton & United Breweries portfolio and we’re delighted to cement our partnership with Asahi,” said John Pollaers, Carlton & United Breweries Managing Director. “We value this extended long term agreement and are proud to have built the Asahi brand into Australia’s favourite Japanese beer.”


Asia overtakes Europe as biggest producer of beer and India is to be Asia's second ....   (

.... largest beer producer

Asian beer manufacturers produced 124 billion pints of beer in 2009, marking an increase of 5.5 per cent compared to the previous year.
At the same time, European beer companies experienced a production drop of 5.1 per cent to 115 billion pints during the same period, according to a study by the research department of Kirin Holdings Co, the Japanese beer giant.
Defying cultural stereotypes of beer-swilling Europeans, it is the first time that Asia has assumed the top spot in the world's beer producing since annual records began in 1974 by the Kirin Institute of Food and Lifestyle.
Vietnam fuelled the surge in Asian beer production, with an increase of more than 24 per cent in beer manufacturing over 2009, according to the report.
India followed closely behind with an increase of 12.3 per cent, while China's beer manufacturers also collectively increased seven per cent over the past year.
With the average Asian still consuming less beer than his or her European counterpart, there was still further scope for Asia to continue growing, according to Kyodo News.
"There is more room for further growth in Asia down the track because Asians' per capita consumption is relatively small," the report read.
Japan, however, did not contribute to the surge in beer production in Asia, instead experiencing a two per cent drop in production levels during the same period.
The figures reflect a long-running trend: the nation's home beer market has shrunk by more than 15 per cent in volume terms over the past decade.
The continued decline in Japan's beer industry has prompted breweries to increasingly invest outside the country.
Asahi Breweries, ranked the world's 12th-largest beer maker, recently announced plans to keep 785 billion yen (£5.8billion) on tap for potential investments outside Japan over the next five years.
Vietnam, however, is enjoying a steady increase in the popularity of its beers, with its popular labels Hanoi Beer and Saigon Beer recently chosen to be the official beverages at this year's Berlin International Beer Festival.


Japan: Beer shipments up 2.1 % in July thanks to high temperatures across the nation  (

Major Japanese brewers announced on August 11 their domestic shipments of beer and beer-like alcoholic drinks (low-malt "happoshu" beer and low-price "third beer") increased by 2.1 percent in July this year compared to the same month last year up to 47.16 million cases for the second straight monthly rise, due largely to high temperatures across the nation according to the Brewers Association of Japan.
Asahi Breweries Ltd., Kirin Brewery Co., Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. all saw their shipments in July increase from year-before levels. One case of beer holds 20 633-milliliter bottles.
The recent hot spell helped overall demand grow, but the only category to post growth was third beer -- the least expensive type -- reflecting thrifty consumer attitudes. Shipments of third beer expanded 16.9%, while beer and happoshu shipments dropped 0.8% and 11%, respectively.


Japan: Asahi’s beer sales up in June but still lower in the first half of this year  (

Japan’s Asahi Breweries said on June, 13 its total domestic beer sales increased by 5.5% to 233,771 kl in June 2010. January – June beer sales dropped by 3.9% to 974,197 kl.
Low-malt happoshu beer saw the biggest decrease in demand – minus 24.2% in June and minus 31.8% in the first half of this year. Sales of ordinary beer grew by 3.1% in June and dropped by 4.6% in January - June, whereas new genre malt-based beer enjoyed a 42.2% growth last month and a 25.5% growth in the first six months of 2010.
Clear Asahi was the only brand to see increase in demand both in June and in the January – June period of 2010. Sales of Style Free grew by 2.8 in June, whereas Super Dry and Asahi Off saw flat sales volume as compared to the same month in 2009. Super Dry, Style Free and Asahi Off all registered lower sales in January – June, minus 5.7, 3.9 and 10.7 per cent respectively.


Japan: Kirin targets unusual market sector with its Free beer   (

Kirin Brewery Co., one of Japan’s leading brewers, is targeting an unusual market sector with a campaign giving away cans of its new hit beer - mothers who have just given birth, The Independent reported on May, 14.
The company is giving away a can of its product, named Free, to around 10,000 women who check out of around 80 maternity clinics in the cities of Tokyo and Osaka.
The three-week campaign has not set off howls of protest, however, as Free has 0 percent alcohol and the company says it is aiming to win over new mothers who like a drink but would otherwise feel unable to have a beer because of the effect it might have on their newborn child.
"Until recently there were no beers available that really had zero alcohol in them and new mothers, people who had to drive and people who do sports, for example, felt they were not able to have a drink," Haruka Higashimuki, a spokeswoman for Kirin Brewery, is quoted as saying.
"Our research showed that they often really did want a drink and to relax or reduce stress, but they couldn't," she said.
When Free was first released in April last year, demand was initially expected to be modest, with Kirin anticipating annual sales of 630,000 cases of the new beer, each case containing the equivalent of 20 633-mililiter bottles. That estimate was quickly raised to 2.5 million cases and then to 3.5 million cases. The final figure for the year eventually topped the 4 million cases mark.
The brewer even had to run full-page adverts in national newspapers apologizing to consumers for shortages of the drink due to its popularity.
As well as being alcohol-free, the beer is also cheaper than regular beer, with a 350-mililiter can of Kirin Free costing about Y150 (€1.14), while a regular beer around Y220 (€1.68) for a can of the same size.
Kirin's competitors among the "Big Four" brewers here have been quick to follow up with their own products. Asahi Breweries was the first to come up with a rival, unveiling its Point Zero on September 1. Before the month was out, Suntory Holdings had released Fine Zero and Sapporo Breweries started shipping Super Clear.


Japan: Asahi Breweries’ sales decline in January - March 2010, ......  (

..... only new genre beer enjoys growing demand

Japan’s Asahi Breweries said on April, 12 its total beer sales dropped by 1.9% to 172,530 kl in March 2010.
As compared to the same month in 2009, sales of ordinary beer fell by 0.5% to 109,654 kl last month. Sales of low-malt happoshu beer plummeted 44.8% to 20,053 kl, whereas malt-based new genre beer saw a 45.8% increase in demand to 42,824 kl.
As for sales by brand, Asahi’s Style Free showed a 8.3% decline to 910 cases, sales of Super Dry dropped by 1.2% whereas sales of Clear Asahi increased by 12.4% to 1,630 cases.
The company’s total beer sales in the first three months of this year dropped by 6.5% to 378,299 kl, the biggest decline shown by happoshu beer (minus 33.8% versus the same period in 2009). Ordinary beer saw a 6.2% drop in demand, whereas sales of new genre beer increased by 20.3%.
Clear Asahi was the sole company’s brand which saw an increase in demand in January – March 2010 (+ 4.8% versus the same period in 2009).

Last database update: 15.07.2019 17:14 © 2004-2019, Birkner GmbH & Co. KG