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Beer sales volume in Japan FY2009-2018

In 2018, the sales volume of beer in Japan amounted to around 2.39 million kiloliters, representing a record low within the last decade. Affected by declining sales in recent years, domestic beer production is experiencing an ongoing downward trend. Meanwhile, beer-like beverages are emerging as a popular alternative on the market.

Low-malt beer

Beverages classified as ‘beer’, according to Japanese liquor tax regulations, contain 50 percent or more malt, with other permitted ingredients being rice, corn, starch, and potato. Due to tax hikes on beer products, breweries in Japan introduced happoshu to the market. This is a beverage with a malt content of less than 50 percent with additives such as fruits or herbs.
However, the success of low-malt beer was short-lived, as the liquor tax system was reformed to close the loophole. With the gradual reclassification of happoshu as ‘beer’ in recent years, domestic shipments have been showing a decade-long decline.

A new genre of beer

As a response to rising prices on low-malt beer, ‘new genre beer’, also referred to as ‘third beer’ (daisan beer), was introduced as another alternative product to the domestic beer market. Contrary to the downward trend of happoshu, however, shipments of the malt-less beverage remained stable in recent years. To keep retail prices low, manufacturers substituted malt with peas, wheat, or other grains and pulses, effectively avoiding taxes on beverages containing malt.

Sales volume of beer in Japan from fiscal year 2009 to 2018

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Release date

March 2020



Survey time period

fiscal years 2009 to 2018; the Japanese fiscal year runs from April 1 of each stated year to March 31 of the following year

Supplementary notes

Excluding sales in Okinawa prefecture.
Values have been rounded.

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Statistics on "Beer industry in Japan"

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