Brewers switch sales targets from restaurants to home drinking

Courtesy of each company / Jiji Press
From left, Kirin’s Spring Valley Hojun 496, Suntory’s The Premium Malt’s and Sapporo’s Black Label beer

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A beer sales battle is intensifying in Japan, with major makers switching their targets from restaurants to people who drink at home as demand for drinking parties and holiday outings remains sluggish amid the prolonged novel coronavirus crisis.

Beer prices dropped following a liquor tax revision in October 2020. Sales of canned beer are growing thanks to a shift from so-called third-segment quasi-beer, for which the tax rate was raised, and robust home-related demand amid the pandemic.

In February, Asahi Breweries Ltd. fully renewed its Super Dry beer for the first time since its launch in 1987, although some in the firm had been cautious about the revamp of the flagship product, which has numerous fans.

Earlier this month, Asahi Breweries set up a special sales area for the renewed product at an Ito-Yokado supermarket in Tokyo’s Ota Ward. Super Dry sales at the shop in early March jumped around 50% from a year before.

Kirin Brewery Co. recently renewed its Spring Valley Hojun 496 craft beer, released only last year. The company sees the move as an “opportunity for regrowth evolving around canned products,” Kirin Brewery President Hideki Horiguchi said.

The company is aiming for a 50% year-on-year rise in Spring Valley Hojun 496 sales, hoping that it will grow into a new mainline product after its popular Ichibanshibori beer.

Suntory Beer Ltd. is launching variants of The Premium Malt’s and other products to meet diverse tastes of consumers.