Shipments of beer and beer-like alcoholic drinks in Japan up 9.5% year-over-year in January to 22.5 million cases, the first increase in three months, buoyed by solid sales of mainstay products after renewals, data shows

TOKYO , February 13, 2014 () – Shipments of beer and beer-like alcoholic drinks in January rose 9.5 percent from a year earlier for the first increase in three months, buoyed by solid sales of mainstay products after renewals, data from five major brewers showed Thursday.

The pace of growth is the highest since January 2011 when the rate registered 13 percent.

The brewers shipped 22.48 million cases last month. One case is equivalent to 20 633-mililiter bottles on a volume basis.

Two market leaders -- Asahi Breweries Ltd. and Kirin Brewery Co. -- renewed their respective key products in December.

The longer New Year holidays that sustained good weather also contributed to the sales surge.

Broken down by drink category, regular beer shipments soared 10 percent to 11.21 million cases thanks to robust demand from both households and outlets. Shipments of "happoshu" low-malt beer grew by 3.5 percent to 3.15 million cases, while low-priced "third-category beer" gained 11.2 percent to 8.11 million cases.

An industry source said the strong sales are likely to continue through March ahead of the consumption tax hike in April.

The five major breweries are Asahi Breweries, Kirin Brewery, Suntory Liquors Ltd., Sapporo Breweries Ltd. and Orion Breweries Ltd.

(c) 2014 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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