Shipments of beer and beer-like drinks in Japan rise 16.7% year-over-year in March to 40.4 million cases, the third straight monthly rise and the second-highest year-over-year increase, according to data released by five major brewers

, April 10, 2014 () – Shipments of beer and beer-like drinks in Japan posted the second-highest year-on-year increase in March, due mainly to last-minute buying sprees ahead of the consumption tax hike on April 1, data released by five major brewers showed Thursday.

Shipments of beer and beer-like drinks came to 40.39 million cases, up 16.7 percent from a year earlier for the third straight monthly increase. One case is equivalent to 20 633-milliliter bottles.

The margin of increase in March was the highest since July 1994, when extreme heat pushed up sales by more than 20 percent from a year before.

The five breweries are Asahi Breweries Ltd., Kirin Brewery Co., Sapporo Breweries Ltd., Suntory Liquors Ltd. and Orion Breweries Ltd., based in Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa.

Shipments between January and March totaled 92.23 million cases, up 10.0 percent from a year earlier, marking the highest increase in the first three months of a year since 1992, when the brewers began releasing shipment data.

By drink category, regular beer shipments in March grew 16.7 percent to 18.70 million cases. Shipments of "happoshu" low-malt beer rose 18.8 percent to 5.76 million cases, while those of low-priced "third-category beer" increased 15.9 percent to 15.93 million cases, the data showed.

(c) 2014 Kyodo News

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