Japanese beers - coming to a Pacific bar soon

The names Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo and Suntory may be known to beer connoisseurs around the world, but they have failed to make the leap to globally recognized brands that can be found in every bar from Shanghai to Sydney and Santiago.

But with the domestic market contracting, Japan's four major brewers have concluded that they need to have a far higher international profile if they want to compete with the companies behind such global labels as Heineken, Carlsberg or Budweiser.

While Asahi Breweries is Japan's largest domestic beer maker, it has a mere 2 percent of the world market. Anheuser Busch, on the other hand, has a 20 percent share.

Asahi Breweries' holding company has launched an effort to acquire Independent Liquor, a New Zealand-based manufacturer and distributor of beer and other alcoholic drinks with a solid business across Oceania and the Pacific. Suntory Holdings, the third-largest of Japan's brewers, has similar designs on the company for the same reason.

Total domestic shipments of beer and reduced-malt beers - which are cheaper as they benefit from lower government taxes - fell 2.8 percent from the previous year. The 459.17 million cases that were shipped was a record low for the sixth straight year since comparable records were first kept in 1992.

Analysts blame the gradual decline in beer consumption in Japan on an aging population and weak demand among younger consumers, who have less money to spend on going out and a far wider array of drinking options than previous generations.

Beer firms have been aware of these trends for several years and had set their sights on the burgeoning Chinese market, which became the world's largest consumer of beer in 2003. They have been unable to make the inroads into the market they anticipated, however, because of the relatively high price of Japanese beers and stiff competition from state-owned Chinese breweries.

Oceania may have fewer drinkers, but the market is stable and ripe for the introduction of new labels, Japan's brewers believe. Another advantage is that it has been relatively overlooked by the international brewing firms because of its geographical isolation from Europe and, to a lesser extent, North America.

Cracking this market may well give Japanese beer manufacturers an increased profile in South-East Asia and a number of South American markets.

And before long, the brewers here hope, it will be as natural to order an ice-cold Kirin in London, New York or Cape Town as it is to request the local tipple.

JR

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Front of House Receptionist / Receptionist

    £21K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Front of House Receptionist to provide th...

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders