Large beverage manufacturers such as Asahi Group Holdings, Kirin Holdings Company, Suntory Holdings Limited or Sapporo Holdings Limited dominate the domestic alcoholic beverage market, providing a variety of high and low alcohol content specialties in the country, such as beer and beer-like beverages, RTD mixed alcoholic drinks, wine, shochu, whisky, and other spirits.
Beer is a widely consumed alcoholic beverage throughout the world and global production figures have shown an increasing trend during the last decade. In 2017, Japan was the seventh largest country in worldwide beer production with an amount of about 51.6 million hectoliters. On the consumer side, over 40 percent of the Japanese adults in 2017 said they drank beer on a regular basis.
While the average Japanese enjoys domestically produced beer, Japan is also well known for its production of high quality sake, shochu, and whisky. In 2015, the domestic shochu production amounted to almost 850 million liters in total, more than twice the amount of sake produced in Japan that year.
Shochu, a distilled beverage, is often used as the main alcoholic ingredient for popular mixed drinks, such as chuhai or sour. These mixed alcoholic drinks are readily available at Japanese convenience stores and supermarkets. Sold in cans, Japanese RTD mixed drinks come in a wide range of tastes, with manufacturers regularly releasing limited flavors and packaging to match the changing seasons in Japan.
As a non-alcoholic alternative for consumers, oolong and green tea are popular alcohol-free substitutes. Forecasts suggest that the consumption of alcohol in Japan will decrease to about 8.75 billion liters by 2020, indicating a continuous growth for soft drinks, with ready-to-drink tea and coffee products as strong market leaders.