Japan. Beer shipments rise 4% in April

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Although the overall market has been shrinking, beer shipments in Japan turned higher in April following a sharp fall (-19.9%) in March. In April total shipments of beer and beer-like drinks increased by 4% year-on-year to 40.83 million cases, according to data released on Monday by the five major Japanese brewers. This is the first gain in two months after production at the facilities that were damaged by tsunami and earthquake gradually resumed and “sales picked up after a widespread mood of self-restraint among consumers eased”, as the Japanese press reports.

Shipments of beer rose by 5.2% to 20.36 million cases and third-category beer increased by 5.3% to 13.49 million cases, while “Happoshu” low-malt beer shipments dropped by 1.8% to 6.97 million cases in April yoy. However – according to a spokesperson at a major Japanese brewer – outlook remains “uncertain”. “Sales are growing at a slower pace in May and we don’t know whether robust sales will last long”, he was quoted as saying.

Asahi reports no change in normal beer sales in April, but a 13% decrease in Happoshu (low- malt beer) and a 4% rise in New genre (Malt-based) beer. Asahi’s total beer sales from January 2011 to April 2011 decreased by 1%.

(One case holds 20 633-mililiter bottles.)