Japan’s beer shipments fall to record low in May

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Total shipments of beer and beer-like drinks in Japan dived 8.6 percent in May from a year earlier to 32.58 million cases, a record low for the reporting month, data by five major brewers showed Friday.

The number also signified the first fall in two months. Brewers blamed the drop on this year’s earlier-than-usual rainy season and the continuing trend of consumers eating out less in consideration for the people hit by the catastrophic March earthquake and tsunami.

Shipments of third-category beer gained 12.3 percent to 13.32 million cases, while those of “Happoshu” low-malt beer plunged 19.8 percent to 5.23 million cases.

One case holds 20 633-mililiter bottles. …