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Japan's May beer shipments decline.

Domestic shipments of beer at Japan's five major brewers in May fell 10.9 percent from a year earlier to 400,243 kilolitres (kl), declining for the 14th month in a row, the Brewers Association of Japan said on Tuesday.

The group attributed the fall to strong demand for low-malt brews, which are cheaper since they are taxed at a lower rate.

Asahi Breweries Ltd, which began selling low-malt brews in February, said its combined domestic shipment of beer and low-malt brews in May rose 19.6 percent from a year earlier to 235,63 6 Id, marking the fourth successive year-on-year gains.

Its shipment of low-malt brews totalled 54,922 kl.

Kirin Brewery Co Ltd, Sapporo Breweries Ltd, unlisted Suntory Ltd and Orion Breweries Ltd did not announce individual shipment figures.

Shipments of low-priced happoshu alone rocketed 46.2 percent to 208,853 kiloliters, contrasting sharply with the 10.9 percent fall in beer shipments.

Happoshu sales extended their year-on-year winning streak to a 60th straight month in May, while those of beer dropped for the 14th month in a row. Brewers of happoshu have scrambled to release a range of new products to cash in on the popularity of the sparkling beerlike beverage.

Happoshu tastes similar to beer but is cheaper. A 350-ml can of happoshu is subject to a 25.3 percent tax rate, compared with 35.6 percent for corresponding beer products.

Happoshu appears to have clinched a 34 percent share of Japan's total beer and happoshu market, according to the Association of Happoshu Makers.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jun 18, 2001
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