Thirsty World Cup fans boosting beer sales: brewers

Millions of extra pints in England, stores emptied in South Korea and sales up in Japan - beer consumption has soared during the World Cup after falling globally in recent years.

"We hope that Kirin's sales will increase more than four percent during this World Cup," said Shinya Izumi, a spokesman for the Japanese brewery which makes the beer of the same name.

"We became even more hopeful after Japan beat Cameroon on Monday. Orders from retailers have been boosted thanks to the victory."

Japanese brewers hope this year's World Cup in South Africa will reverse a previous downturn, after seeing sales fall by four percent since the last World Cup in Germany in 2006.

In China, the world's biggest market for beer, the amber nectar has been flowing freely since the beginning of the tournament, especially in large cities.

In the central town of Zhuzhou, the country's biggest brewer Tsingtao said that sales had almost doubled. Tsingtao said it had sold around 42,000 bottles a day, against 24,000 bottles before the tournament.

During South Korea's June 17 game against Argentina, shops from the GS25 chain sold 345,000 bottles or cans of beer in South Korea - a 123 percent increase on the previous week.

And on June 12, the eve of the opening of the competition, Bokwang Family Mart, another chain of South Korean stores, said that sales of beer had doubled with 45,000 bottles or cans sold.

In England, one of Europe's main beer-drinking nations, the pubs have been full throughout the tournament, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

During the England-USA match on June 12 nine million pints of beer were served, bringing in revenue of around 42 million euros, the BBPA said.

Britain's second-placed supermarket chain Asda expected a 37 percent rise in beer sales during the competition.

"The World Cup is a springboard for beer to post its best results in a decade," said a study by Euromonitor International.

German brewers said that the national team's fortunes would boost their own. Thirty years ago the average German drank 150 litres of beer per year, whereas now the figure has dropped to 100 litres.

In South Africa, the host country, brewer SABMiller, owner of the Miller Lite, Peroni and Grolsh brands, has built up reserves to avoid its stock selling out.

"There will be plenty of beer," said SABMiller marketing manager Alastair Hewitt, whose group is expecting to sell 10 million litres during the five weeks of the World Cup.

"Dedicated telephone numbers will be set up whereby customers can dial in should they require emergency supplies," he said.

In France, where the consumption of beer is moderate compared to other European countries, Gerard Laloi, president of the association of brewers, said that "more than the World Cup it is the weather that influences beer consumption."

"If the weather is good, consumption increases by 10 to 15 percent, if not it is slack."

However Drinkaware, an independent British charity, gave a sober warning of the dangers of overindulging in alcohol during the World Cup.

"If you are in the pub watching the footy, you are unlikely to be thinking about the cumulative impact a few drinks with your mates might be having," it said in a statement.

It said that binge drinking was a "risk factor in developing heart disease" while regularly drinking even two pints a day could cause health conditions including liver damage, strokes, depression and reduction in male fertility.

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